Nigerian petty businesses and the e-Naira

The e-Naira may have come to stay, but how many Nigerians, especially those on the low rungs of the socio-economic ladder, can use it? ONYEKORMAKA ASABOR writes

Haruna, a grocer at Pakuro, within Mowe axis of Ogun State, and his contemporaries that are into one form of petty trading or another heard about the e-Naira – Nigeria’s digital currency, few days after it was unveiled by the Central Bank of Nigeria, in October 2021. But three months down the line, some respondents, including Haruna, were still ignorant about virtual currencies, and how they can be used to complement cash payments in business transactions.

Mummy Dolapo, another grocer, said her daughter, Dolapo, had explained everything about e-Naira to her, but lamented that she neither had a bank account linked to a Bank Verification Number nor a smartphone, to enable her download the apps. Her words, “Few weeks ago, Dolapo, my undergraduate daughter, came home to spend the weekend with us. On Saturday, she and her younger sibling, Timilehin, told me about e-Naira. Till this moment, no customer has told me that he or she wants to purchase goods from my shop with the new money.”

Against the foregoing, it is expedient to say that apart from not having a smartphone and a bank account, her educational background also appeared to be so bare to cope with the sophistication of the e-Naira app. Aptly put, she was not tech-savvy.

Mummy Dolapo, above, highlighted three critical drawbacks inherent in the use of e-Naira, which many petty traders would unarguably face when the virtual notes begin to drive financial transactions. They cut across transaction platform (smartphone and BVN) and the sophistication, which need to be explained to petty traders across the country. 


More job for authorities

Jenkins Uwakina, a communication expert, said, “Much has not been done by the apex bank since the introduction of the virtual currency to create awareness.” He suggested town hall meetings to be organised across markets in urban and rural areas.

“Not only that, even Point of Sale operators can also be trained or rather enlightened on e-Naira, particularly on modalities of the instrument of financial transaction,” he added.

Against the foregoing, it is extremely expedient that traders understand everything they need to know about the e-Naira, for them to be at ease in the course of transacting business with it. Its acquisition, no doubt, compels users to download the speed wallet, validate their account on the wallet by using their phone number, National Identification Number or BVN. In addition, users will be able to transfer money through Peer-to-Peer transactions from their e-wallets to other wallet holders.


The drawbacks

It is not only Haruna and Mummy Dolapo that are caught in the heightened ignorance trailing the introduction of the virtual currency. In as much as it can be said that the CBN is right by taking advantage of new technologies to facilitate financial inclusion, that there are challenges that border on awareness and acceptability cannot be wished away, as not few Nigerians at the low rungs of the socio-economic ladder are oblivious of the e-Naira and its advantages that ought to be exploited without prevarication.

Amos Osakwe said, “Though it can be said that the CBN has done well in sensitising the people about the benefits they are bound to derive if they take advantage of the virtual currency, it is disappointing to note that not a few of them are still grappling with how it works.”

Even as the CBN, since the launch of the e-Naira, has been assuring Nigerians that, in all ramifications of its denominations, the currency is secure, tamper-proof and simple, to the extent that it lessens the cost of transactions, not majority of Nigerians know about it.


Soaring popularity

Paradoxically, virtual currencies are gaining popularity among the enlightened. In less than two months of the public launch, available statistics indicate that the virtual means of exchange is gaining international attention. This, no doubt, is indicative of the fact that it would be accepted in the digital space, which is universal.

Nine weeks into the rollout of the e-Naira, the application has witnessed hundreds of thousands of downloads. And in about two weeks of its entry into the digital currency market, a conservative estimate of N46.3m worth of transactions were reportedly executed with it.

This shows that the public might have been waiting for the alternative currency that addresses the gaps associated with the existing payment systems in the country.

Not only that, within one month of its launch, the e-Naira reportedly attracted about half a million people, as many as 488,000 consumer wallets were downloaded.

Buttressing the attraction that is fast characterising the virtual currency, CBN Director of Corporation Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, described the adoption of the e-Naira as excellent

He said, “More than 488,000 people have downloaded the consumer wallet needed to transact e-Naira, while about 78,000 merchants from more than 160 countries have enrolled.”


Need to rev up campaign

Some residents of Agege/Ogba within Ikeja, Lagos State, have urged the CBN to ensure proper education of the people on the new digital currency in the country.

The respondents, in different chats, were unanimous that some of the residents were not aware of the circulation of the new currency.

Peter Itama said, “I heard about the e-Naira, recently introduced by the CBN, but I am ignorant of how it works.”



There is unanimity among the respondents that there is also need to educate the people more about the e-Naira. Although the CBN has consistently maintained that there are campaigns to deepen the understanding of e-Naira among the population, it is unclear what the campaigns entail.

They were of the view that the people needed to know the difference between the digital representation of cash deposits in bank accounts and the e-Naira in digital wallets.

Get in Touch


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles