The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the eNaira, has been upgraded with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This will allow users to make wireless and contactless offline payments with the eNaira.
- Mr. Joseph Angaye, assistant director at the risk management department of the bank made this known at a CBN-led awareness program to the University of Abuja.
- He explained that the eNaira would provide a more efficient and secure way to make payments, and that it would help to increase financial inclusion in Nigeria.
- According to reports, the CBN further stated that the NFC technology added to the eNaira was aimed at driving innovation in contactless payments.
- NFC is a short-range wireless technology that enables communication between devices when they are close to each other. It is used to authenticate credit cards, unlock doors, transfer files and jumpstart more capable wireless link
- In a June 2023 note on contactless payments, the CBN directed that individuals would be able to conduct financial transactions using wireless payments instruments such as cards, stickers, wearable devices and mobile electronic devices.
- Payments are made when these devices come in proximity with contactless-enabled payment terminals — stipulated at 2cm by the bank.
- A CBN spokesperson at the event, Shadrach Abdul, noted that the eNaira’s version of the technology would work through a sticker attached to mobile phones. The sticker was said to be compatible with any phone and any eNaira merchant without the need for a smartphone or internet connection.
- Abdul added that the bank would deploy infrastructure to enable these contactless payment systems on the premises of the University of Abuja.
Abdul, speaking on the NFC technology, said:
“We felt we should innovate and build more means of exchanging service. We now have NFC where we stick a sticker to your phone and use it to make payments. Even if you do not have a smartphone, you can stick it to any phone, and it automatically makes it a smartphone and offers the same service. You can use it with any eNaira merchant.”
- Contactless payments, though not widespread yet, have been fused with some CBDCs globally.
- The Bank of Ghana, in its CBDC pilot, launched a technology in conjunction with German company, Giesecke+Devrient to test an offline version of Ghana’s CBDC, the eCedi.
- The offline version was focused on Ghanaians without internet access and it featured the use of hardware such as smart cards, watches and wristbands.
- Other countries such as Uruguay, China and Canada have explored contactless technology for their respective CBDCs at one time or the other.