The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has engaged a Barbados-based digital financial technology firm, Bitt Inc, as technical partner for its e-Naira project due for unveiling before the end of the year.
With operations spreading across the Caribbean, Bitt utilises blockchain and distributed ledger technology to facilitate peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions with mobile money across a suite of Bitt’s Software and mobile applications.
A statement signed by the Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, said the Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed the decision, in Abuja where he listed the benefits of the e-Naira to include increased cross-border trade and accelerated financial inclusion.
The statement said the firm was chosen through a highly competitive bidding process. It said it was chosen on its 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 digital currency (CBDC) pilot of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in April 2021,” the statement said.
The Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) codenamed Project Giant started in 2017, after what the CBN described as “extensive research and explorations”.
The process was renewed and accelerated earlier in the year after it banned financial institutions from processing cryptocurrency-related transactions and amid widespread adoption of digital currency, including cryptocurrency, with Nigerian youths emerging as leading investors in the novel assets.
The apex bank said its decision followed the significant explosion in the use of digital payments and the rise in the digital economy with over 85 per cent of central banks contemplating CBDCs.