The Central Bank of Nigeria has unveiled the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code for its eNaira, indicating that Nigerians without internet-enabled phones can use eNaira for transactions.
The unveiling took place in Kano State on Thursday where the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, was represented by the deputy governor of operations, Folashodun Adenisi-Shonubi.
The bank said the code, *997#, will help deepen financial inclusion as all transactions can be accessed through the channel.
The decision by the apex bank to use the USSD as the offline channel for the eNaira was based on an understanding of the unique features of our economy, taking into account the fact that, as of right now, about 50% of adult Nigerians are not bank customers and are therefore not eligible for formal financial services.
The eNaira’s first phase was concentrated on banked customers, while the second phase is on financial inclusion, according to Emefiele, who made this revelation at the grand conclusion of the eNaira Hackathon.
“It captures the slogan ‘same naira, more possibilities’, and designed to positively impact lives of Nigerians, and transform the economy.”
“The eNaira is expected to enhance inclusion, support poverty reduction, enable direct welfare disbursement to citizens, support a resilient payments ecosystem, improve availability and usability of central bank money,” he said.
According to Emefiele, it would lower the cost of processing cash and boost the effectiveness of cross-border transfers.
He estimates that 35.9% of Nigerians do not have access to formal financial services, and around 45% do not have bank accounts.
However, he claimed that 86 million of Nigeria’s 106 million adults, or nearly 81% are mobile phone owners.
“In addition, there are 150 million mobile subscribers in Nigeria, according to NCC, June 2022.
“Therefore, eNaira seeks to leverage the huge opportunity mobile telecommunication presents, as a distribution channel, for the offering of digital services to the underserved and unbanked population,” he said.