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eNaira USSD channel targets feature phone users, diaspora remitters

By Guardian Nigeria
27 February 2023   |   5:25 am
Nigeria’s Central Bank digital currency (CBDC) has been extended to feature phone users with the unveiling of the USSD channel of eNaira.

President, Balogun Business Association, Oscar Ikechukwu (left); member eNaira project giant team, Central Bank of Nigeria, Otaru Abdulkadir; founder, BULLNET Bulletin and Enquiries Networking Services, Bayo Akintoye and co-founder, Deji West during a media parley on eNaira eNhanced Services in Lagos…yesterday PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

Nigeria’s Central Bank digital currency (CBDC) has been extended to feature phone users with the unveiling of the USSD channel of eNaira.

The channel would enable subscribers to cash in and out of eNaira platform using USSD, an innovation the promoter of the scheme said would increase its speed of adoption.

Chief Executive Officer of Bullnet, the company behind the eNaira enhanced service, Bayo Akintoye, said the innovation would bring millions of unbanked Nigerians into the financial system.

He described the service as a game changer in the implementation road, saying it will enable users to cash out through the automated teller machine without necessarily the use of account debit cards.

Akintoye said: “The CBN has collaborated with ChamsMobile Ltd to address challenges faced primarily by the unbanked, the underserved and those on the other side of the digital divide by developing the service known as eNaira enhanced services, where the eNaira USSD channel *997*50# can be used to carry out all banking transactions.

“This wallet can be funded directly using this platform with cash purchased vouchers like GSM recharge cards or from a funded bank account using bank cards via the web portal that has been provided or using electronic payments with any authorised agents.

“Users can also transfer eNaira from one wallet to another simply by putting in the recipient’s phone number. This service also makes it possible for users to cash out by sending the eNaira directly from their wallets to an ATM and withdrawing the cash equivalent without need of a bank account or bank cards.”

He noted that the network of banking agents across the country would become eNaira extension workers and would be selling vouchers to customers at a profit while onboarding new users.

According to him, the extension workers will also be educating the masses about the concept and benefits of the CBDC just as they guide users on how to efficiently use eNaira for transactions.

“The eNaira extension workers can buy and register SIMs and help customers that don’t have phones already to operate the wallet, even on their phones in case the customers are not able to buy their own phones. They can help them to keep physical ledgers for eNaira transactions in places, where there are no mobile services or network, ”he said.

Akintoye added that the innovation, which has secured the buy-in of MTN and 9mobile, would allow Nigerians abroad purchase vouchers to fund their wallets and send money home.

Director of Information Technology Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Rakiya Mohammed, commended Bullnet for coming up with a homegrown innovation and stressed that eNaira was introduced to support the traditional banking ecosystem.

“The eNaira which was launched last two years, Oct. 25, 2021, was introduced not to come and replace your traditional banking or financial ecosystem, it was introduced to support what we already have there.

“So, for your electronic payments and cash transactions, the eNaira just came in to create an environment that is more efficient and resilient when you are making transactions,” the director, who was represented by Otaru Abdulkadir, said.

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