Nigeria’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), eNaira has often been described by critics as a redundant app. Because everything the eNaira can do, banks and other fintech startups are already doing it, and even better.
Well, a recent report (PDF) by the IMF has just proved what critics have already been saying. According to a working paper released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an overwhelming 98.5 per cent of eNaira wallets have never been used.
The IMF report also highlighted the slow uptake of the eNaira by both households and merchants, attributing the low public adoption to underwhelming wallet downloads and transaction activity. As of the end of November 2021, only about 860,000 retail eNaira wallets had been created, which amounted to a mere 0.8 per cent of Nigeria’s active bank accounts.
Aside from that, the IMF found that most eNaira wallets appeared inactive, with an average of just 1.5 per cent of downloaded wallets carrying out transactions on a weekly basis.
The average number of eNaira transactions per week amounted to approximately 14,000, representing only 1.5 per cent of the total number of wallets in circulation. Consequently, a staggering 98.5 per cent of wallets remained unused during any given week. The average value of eNaira transactions per week was 923 million naira, which accounted for a mere 0.0018 per cent of the average M3 amount during the same period.
To overcome these challenges, the IMF suggested that a coordinated policy effort would be necessary to drive adoption and break the initial low uptake spell. The report emphasized the need to establish the right relationship between eNaira and mobile money, as well as the potential for substantial cost savings by integrating the CBDC into remittance processes.