By Emmanuel Nduka
As the October 1 take off date for the rollout of digital currency nears, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the formal engagement of the global Fintech company, Bitt Inc as its Technical Partner, ignoring home-grown Fintech companies.
The decision of the CBN is disturbing, especially as it comes at a time when other countries are utilising their home-grown solutions. The CBN deliberately ignored top Nigerian Fintech companies such as: Flutterwave, Paystack, PiggyVest, Paga, Interswitch, E-tranzact, Carbon Paylater, Remita (SystemSpecs), and VoguePay.
The CBN’s move also disagrees with Nigeria’s status as the first movers in Africa and most populous black nation in the world, with a rich option of Fintech solutions capable of doing the job, and have received international accolades.
While countries like Rwanda (e-RWF), South Africa (digital Rand), Ghana (e-Cedi) are utilising home-grown solutions and creating jobs for their people, Nigeria may have taken the back seat in further frustrating the efforts and capacity of its young generation of technocrats.
Unlike Nigeria’s case, Rwanda in its planned take off for digital currency, looked at critical areas. Norbert Haguma, Chairman of Rwanda’s Blockchain Association, noted that among the most important aspects to look into, is the necessity of a CBDC, and whether or not it would actually bring value.
“Finally, will a CBDC help Rwanda in our goal to become a financial and technology center? Will we develop some if not all of the CBDC technology locally?” he worried.
But in announcing the selection of Bitt Inc, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele argued that Bitt was chosen from among highly competitive bidders based on the company’s technological competence, efficiency, platform security, interoperability, and implementation experience.
“In choosing Bitt Inc, the CBN relied on the company’s tested and proven digital currency experience, which is already in circulation in several Eastern Caribbean Countries.
“Bitt Inc. was key to the development and successful launch of the central bank’s digital currency (CBDC), pilot of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), in April 2021,” he said.
It would be recalled that the apex bank had on July 22 during a private webinar with stakeholders outlined a digital currency initiative. It said about 80 percent of central banks globally are currently exploring the possibility of issuing their Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and Nigeria could not be left behind.