A Barbadian digital currency firm has landed a major partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as the bank focuses on expanding its digital currency called the eNaira. In a statement this week from the lead Nigerian financial institution, the Central Bank said it had engaged Bitt Inc, a Barbados-based global fintech company, as the technical partner in the bank’s digital currency. Bitt Inc., which is led by businessman Brian Popelka, took the lead in developing the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union’s (ECCU) “DCash”, the first digital cash issued by a currency union central bank.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Godwin Emefiele, revealed the development in Abuja, on Monday.
In listing the benefits of going digital Governor Emefiele said the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will include increased cross-border trade, accelerated financial inclusion, cheaper, and faster remittances.
Other benefits, he said, included easier targeted social interventions, as well as improvements in monetary policy effectiveness, payment systems efficiency, and tax collection.
The pilot scheme for the eNaira will be launched on October 1, 2021. Osita Nwanisobi, a spokesperson for the bank disclosed that the selection of Bitt Inc. from among other highly competitive bidders was based on the Barbadian company’s technological competence, efficiency, platform security, interoperability, and implementation experience.
“In choosing Bitt Inc, the CBN will rely on the company’s tested and proven digital currency experience, which is already in circulation in several Eastern Caribbean countries.”
He added: “Bitt Inc. was key to the development and successful launch of the central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in April 202I.” Nwanisobi said following the CBN’s decision to digitise the naira in 2017, Project Giant, as the Nigerian CBDC pilot is known, undertook a long and thorough process. According to the spokesperson, the CBN’s decision follows an unmistakable global trend in which over 85 per cent of central banks are now considering adopting digital currencies in their countries.
He attributed the global adoption of digital currencies to the significant explosion in digital payments and the rise in the digital economy.
Earlier this year, the CBN directed banks to close accounts of persons or entities involved in cryptocurrency transactions. It warned that cryptocurrencies posed a risk of loss of investments, money laundering, terrorism financing, illicit fund flows, and other criminal activities.