Does Nigeria really need CBN’s e-Naira? – Nairametrics

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has stated that it plans to launch the pilot scheme of its Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) on Independence Day. This was mentioned at a press briefing delivered by Rakiya Mohammed, Director, IT Department at the CBN.

She stated that the apex bank has been conducting research in regard to central bank digital currencies since 2017 and may conduct a proof of concept before the end of this year.

The project name is tagged Project “GIANT” and a blockchain technology known as the Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain is being used. The CBN has also dubbed its CBDC ‘e-Naira.’

READ: CBN drafts guidelines to Nigerian banks on e-Naira

In a presentation to banks, as earlier reported by Nairametrics, the CBN gave insight into how the e-Naira would operate, noting that it will be a legal tender for the entire country and have non-interest-bearing CBDC status, a transaction limit for customers and a value-based transaction limit.

According to the presentation also, the CBN will issue its own wallet called the “Speed wallet,” but the wallet will not compete with existing banks. The CBN awaits the creation of “wallets” by banks and other innovators.

READ: Exclusive: Digital Currency partner, Bitt Inc to register in Nigeria, CBN to own stake

How to use the e-Naira

To use the e-Naira to transact, users will have to download the speed wallet, validate their account on the wallet by using either their phone number, National Identity Number (NIN) or Bank Verification Number (BVN). Once done, users can begin to use the wallet. According to the presentation, users will be able to send money using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) transactions through their wallets to other wallet holders, Person-to-Marchant/Business where e-Naira users can pay for items to merchants who have the e-Naira wallet and vice versa.

The presentation also shows how the Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) will be onboarded and use the e-Naira to do remittances to their staff and members of the public once there is mass adoption of the e-Naira and how citizens can make payment to MDAs using the e-Naira.

READ: How CBN’s e-Naira would affect Nigerians

Benefits of the e-Naira

Sean Stein Smith, a professor at the City University of New York, Lehman College, stated, “A CBDC issued and governed by a central bank or other governmental agency will help push the accounting and reporting conversation forward.

“Accounting might not make for splashy headlines, but in order for any crypto, and by extension blockchain, to achieve wider usage, accounting and reporting needs to be standardized.

“Looking at the tax issues linked to cryptocurrency alone highlights the need for standardized and consistent regulatory treatment that does not stifle further innovation.”

The e-Naira will also benefit as it will make governmental remittances easier. The case of the palliatives given during the lockdown last year, where many Nigerians did not receive theirs, can be solved if the government can easily remit money to its citizens. The e-Naira will also be able to better implement the CBN’s cashless policy.

Another point will be the reduction in the need for printing money in the long term. As more people adopt the CBDC as a means of payment, the need for paper currency will drop and the government can spend less on printing since they can easily issue new coins or e-Naira through the Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain. Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria‘s annual report, which was compiled by the currency operations department, shows the nation spent a total of ₦307 billion on printing banknotes between 2014 and 2019.

In addition, the cases of financial fraud can be easily tracked as the government will be able to monitor the flow of money in and around the country as it provides transparency and is difficult to counterfeit.

With the use-case explained let’s address the elephant in the room. Does Nigeria really need a CBDC?

The Nigerian banking system is one of the most sophisticated in the world and the banking system continues to advance its technological strength. In Nigeria, domestic intra bank transactions are done within seconds and at most minutes, a feat the United States was only able to achieve in 2017 through the creation of Zelle.

Before Zelle, fintech products like CashApp dominated instant transfers in the U.S. The U.S commercial banks took 2-3 days to transfer money between banks and when they realized a lot of users started adopting these fintech applications, they started integrating Zelle into their system to foster these instant payments between banks so as to meet up with the competition.

Asides from our technological strength, the average Nigerian transaction involves the use of four payment methods which are all instant; Point of Sale (POS) machine, Online Bank Transfer, USSD Code enabled transfers and fiat currency. The average Nigerian retailer accepts at least one of these payment methods when a transaction is about to take place. If the intent of the government is to reduce the use of paper money, the POS systems and online transfers can be encouraged through targeted campaigns, just like the cashless policy campaign in 2012.

Dipo Fatokun, CBN’s former Director of Banking and Payment System, defined financial inclusion as the access to financial services that are available to the adult population in any given economy. A major component of the e-Naira is the need for smartphones. This poses a problem because according to Pew Research Center, only 32% in Nigeria use smartphones. Nigeria’s population is 206 million people and this represents approximately 66 million people. Another report from the Guardian states that Nigeria has roughly 170 million mobile phone users based on subscriptions but only about 25 and 40 million users have smartphones which represent only 10-20% of the population.

Since the CBN’s mandate also includes financial inclusion, the proposed e-Naira limits the number of people within the country that can have access to a digital wallet, let alone, a CBDC.

Bottomline

Although one could make a case that the use of CBDC helps to better monitor illicit transactions within the country, but in the real world, a Nigerian CBDC will be too costly to implement and may be rendered useless quickly when compared to other systems that exist. The banking system is sophisticated enough to handle transactions as a means of payment. The central bank is better off spending its time and resources on pressing issues like how to combat double-digit inflation.

According to Olumide Adesina, a writer for CoinDesk, “The CBN aims for the CBDC to increase financial inclusion rapidly and easily. Creating and holding funds for citizens in a central bank account could offer better access to financial services for the unbanked or underbanked.

“However, some economists also believe the CBN can spend in deficit and shift funds directly to citizens without worrying about the national debt in times of economic hardship. In other words, a CBDC could present an obvious inflation risk.”

He further stated, “This would also enhance control over the level of access a Nigerian citizen has to a financial system, particularly if the citizen attempts to engage in behaviours considered to be a threat by the financial authority.”

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What you need to know about CBN’s digital currency (E-Naira)

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced in June that it will launch its digital currency by the end of 2021. To reaffirm this development, Rakiya Mohammed, CBN director of information technology, stated in a private webinar that the apex bank would launch its digital currency pilot scheme on October 1, 2021.

Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) are becoming increasingly popular around the world. They are a response to the global rise of digital payment solutions and a component of various central banks’ response to the influence of cryptocurrency in their respective countries.

Rakiya Mohammed explained that approximately 80 per cent of central banks worldwide are currently exploring the possibility of issuing their central bank digital currency (CBDC), and Nigeria could not afford to fall behind. The apex bank had been researching since 2017 regarding the development of a digital currency.

CBDC in Nigeria

Senator Ihenyen, president of the Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (SIBAN), explained that CBDC comes in two varieties: wholesale CBDC and retail CBDC. This classification is based on the intended user. While retail CBDC allows the CBN and citizens to have direct financial relationships, wholesale CBDC lets banks and financial institutions act as intermediaries between the CBN and the citizens. The new Nigerian digital currency will operate on a hybrid system, which is a combination of both. The digital naira would be issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria and held directly in the digital wallets of Nigerians. CBDC, like fiat currencies, would be recognized as a form of payment and regulated by the CBN.

According to Mohammed, the project tagged ‘GIANT’ will use the Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain for operation. The Hyperledger Fabric blockchain is a private and permissioned blockchain network designed by a computer hardware company, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). They are permissioned blockchains in that each party is identified and every transaction is authenticated, authorized, validated, and tracked. The CBN determines who can get on the platform and can approve or override a transaction if it deems fit, unlike bitcoin, where transactions are approved upon the agreement of majority nodes.

When the pilot scheme is finally launched, the value of the CBN’s digital currency will most likely be tied to the naira. And like China’s digital yuan, which functions as a replacement for the yuan, i.e. one digital yuan equals one physical yuan. The CBN’s digital currency will experience the same depreciation and inflation as the naira.

CBDCs and cryptocurrency

Research into the development of Nigeria’s digital currency began in 2017. Measures to restrict crypto exchanges first appeared in Nigeria, Africa’s largest Bitcoin market, in 2017. In February, the CBN issued a circular to banks and financial institutions stating that transactions in cryptocurrencies and facilitating payment for cryptocurrency exchanges were prohibited due to the risk of investment loss, money laundering, terrorism financing, illicit fund flows, and other criminal activities. Banks and financial institutions were also directed to identify individuals or entities that engage in cryptocurrency transactions.

The proposed launch of the digital currency has many believing that the country’s ban on cryptocurrency trading was heavily influenced by the CBN’s incoming digital currency, as the CBN does not want to create a competitor for its system. This has also contributed to their belief that cryptocurrency and CBDC work in the same way.

However, although CBDCs and cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum) are both digital currencies, one important distinction is that while cryptocurrency is decentralized and users are anonymous, CBDCs are centralized. This means cryptocurrencies cannot be monitored, but CBDCs issued by the CBN can be monitored and regulated. Having registered the fact that both digital currencies are different in operations, there is a silver lining in the dark cloud of cryptosystem in the country.

There is a slight hope that the cryptosystem in the country would be revitalized. In his article What CBN’s digital currency could mean—transparency vs surveillance, Benjamin Dada explained that the CBN would likely devise a way for crypto companies to be reintegrated into the financial ecosystem. He explained that while crypto companies may not be able to make direct debits from financial institutions, CBN’s digital currency may be used for crypto transactions.

Dada expressed concern about the digital currency materializing before the current CBN governor’s term expires in 2024, citing the fact that CBDCs often take a long time to create and test. China’s digital yuan has been in the works since 2014 (7 years) and has yet to be fully implemented.

When the scheme is eventually launched, Nigeria will join other countries across the globe and Africa racing to develop its CBDC. Some of these countries include South Africa (digital Rand), Tunisia (eDinar), Ghana (e-cedi), Sweden, Japan, South Korea, and Russia.

China (digital yuan), Sweden (e-krona), Bahamas (sand dollar), Eastern Caribbean (DCash) are among the few countries that have officially launched their national digital currency.

Benefits of the digital currency

The CBN listed the benefits of the digital currencies to include macro-management and growth, cross-border trade facilitation, financial inclusion, monetary policy effectiveness, improved payment efficiency, revenue tax collection, remittance improvement and targeted social intervention. Other benefits are the reduction in the costs of minting and printing physical currency, a reduction in fraudulent activities, counterfeit money in circulation and armed robbery.

Although the CBN didn’t address the disadvantages, the reality is that the proposed digital currency cannot be devoid of problems. Some obvious disadvantages are that a significant number of Nigerians are not adept in the use of technology and most importantly, there would likely be unrestrained monitoring of the transactions of Nigerians.

Written by Adekunle Agbetiloye

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Bakkt Strengthens Leadership Team Appointing Dan O’Prey as Executive Vice President of Digital …

ALPHARETTA, Ga.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jul 15, 2021–

Bakkt Holdings LLC (“Bakkt”), the digital asset marketplace behind the Bakkt App, announced that tech industry veteran Dan O’Prey has joined the company as Executive Vice President of Digital Assets, effective July 12, 2021. In this newly created position, O’Prey will focus on accelerating the go-forward strategy for cryptocurrency and digital assets, with a specific focus on prioritization and commercialization of Bakkt’s crypto-related offerings for individual and institutional customers.

“With over seven years of blockchain experience at pioneering organizations, Dan brings an extensive and impressive background to Bakkt at a time when we are rapidly expanding our offerings and laying the groundwork for our long-term growth trajectory,” said Gavin Michael, Chief Executive Officer, Bakkt. “We look forward to pulling from Dan’s deep industry knowledge to expand our offerings as we unite the digital assets ecosystem unlike any player in the market.”

“I’m thrilled to be taking a role pivotal to Bakkt’s expansion, as the industry enters the next phase of mass adoption,” said Dan. “We sit perfectly at that intersection of secure institutional infrastructure and disruptive consumer technology, key components that enable the mainstream utility of bitcoin and other digital assets.”

Most recently, Dan served as Chief Strategy Officer at Digital Asset, creators of the Daml smart contract language. In that role, he was responsible for defining the corporate strategy, aligning the top-level product strategy, and oversaw marketing and communications across the firm. Dan joined Digital Asset as part of the acquisition of Hyperledger, the first permissioned distributed ledger platform, where he was co-founder and CEO, and was instrumental in establishing and operating Hyperledger as a project at the Linux Foundation.

To download the Bakkt App, visit the App Store and Google Play Store.

About Bakkt:

Bakkt is a trusted digital asset marketplace that enables institutions and consumers to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets. Bakkt’s retail platform, now available through the recently-released Bakkt App, amplifies consumer spending, reduces payment costs, and bolsters loyalty programs, adding value for all key stakeholders within the Bakkt payments and digital assets ecosystem. Launched in 2018 by Intercontinental Exchange, Inc., Bakkt is headquartered in Alpharetta, GA. For more information, visit: https://www.bakkt.com/.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210715005338/en/

CONTACT: Lauren Post, VP – Communications

Lauren.post@bakkt.com

KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA GEORGIA

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: TECHNOLOGY OTHER RETAIL FINANCE BANKING OTHER TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONAL SERVICES SOFTWARE DATA MANAGEMENT RETAIL ONLINE RETAIL

SOURCE: Bakkt Holdings LLC

Copyright Business Wire 2021.

PUB: 07/15/2021 09:36 AM/DISC: 07/15/2021 09:36 AM

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210715005338/en

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8 Indian Blockchain Startups To Watch Out For

Blockchain, a decentralised, distributed ledger for digital information, was one of the most disruptive technologies that defined the last decade. It powers cryptocurrencies and NFTs and can radically change multiple sectors, including payments, cybersecurity and healthcare.

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According to Research and Markets, 55 percent of Indian businesses are adopting blockchain technology. Below, we list down eight homegrown blockchain startups making ripples.

(The list is in no particular order)

Polygon

Polygon, formerly known as Matic Network, was founded in 2017 by Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal and Anurag Arjin. The Bengaluru-based startup aims to make blockchain mainstream.

Polygon has built a decentralised platform (by adapting Plasma framework) to provide faster and low-cost transactions on the main chain.

Recently, Polygon raised an undisclosed amount of funding from tech billionaire and ‘Shark Tank’ celebrity Mark Cuban.

SoluLab

Ahmedabad- based SoluLab was founded by Rajat Lala and Chintan Thakkar in 2014. The blockchain startup has now expanded to the US, UAE, Canada and Australia.

SoluLab builds enterprise-class blockchain applications for healthcare, finance, education, media, and real estate industries. It provides blockchain development solutions and services such as private blockchain, apps development services, integrating IoT with blockchain projects and leveraging the power of AI to access quality data for blockchain-based applications.

SoluLab uses tools including Truffle, Ethereum, Hyperledger and Quorum. Additionally, it also provides blockchain consultation, invests in startups, builds developer tools and offers blockchain education.

KrypC

Bengaluru-based KrypC was founded in 2016 by Ravi Jagannathan and Karthik Balasubramanian. The B2B company helps enterprises build, deploy and manage blockchain solutions.

KrypC’s products include KrypCore Studio and V-Board Framework. KrypCore Studio is a low-code blockchain application development studio that helps enterprises translate their innovative use-cases into a blockchain solution. It accelerates their innovation by eliminating time-consuming, complicated and resource-intensive development processes and with minimal code.

Hyperlink Infosystem

Ahmedabad-based startup Hyperlink Infosystem was founded in 2011 by Harnil Oza. Started as a mobile app development company, Hyperlink Infosystem ventured into the blockchain, AI, and IoT space in 2019. Today, the B2B startup caters to the blockchain requirements of businesses by offering solutions such as cryptocurrency wallet, hyperledger blockchain development, private blockchain, Ethereum cryptocurrency and smart contracts.

Over the years, Hyperlink Infosystem has expanded its footprints to the USA, UK, UAE, France and Canada.

OpenXcell

Founded by Jayneel Patel in 2008, OpenXcell is a blockchain development company based in Ahmedabad, India. It has offices in the USA and Canada as well. It offers solutions in blockchain technology, smart contracts, smart contract auditing, Hyperledger, exchanges and wallets.

OpenXcell has a team to develop and design services ranging from simple to advanced blockchain architecture, and its client base is spread across the USA, Australia and Europe.

Deqode

Originally established as Techracers, Deqode pivoted in 2019, establishing itself as a separate entity. It is led by Ankur Maheshwari and Latha Sharma, and is headquartered in California.

Deqode offers a comprehensive portfolio of enterprise blockchain solutions that integrate with the existing business process to accelerate the digital journey. Its solutions include dq.wallet, dq.track, and dq.pay.

Deqode has served customers across 20-plus countries, delivering more than 30 blockchain projects to enterprises in the fintech, supply chain, energy and healthcare sectors.

Bitdeal

Madurai-based Bitdeal was founded in 2016. It has a dedicated team to design, develop and deploy cryptocurrency exchange applications on iOS and Android platforms.

Its cryptocurrency exchange development services include bitcoin exchange script, cryptocurrency exchange script, P2P crypto exchange script, crypto exchange clone script, decentralised exchange script, hybrid crypto exchange script, cryptocurrency wallet development, blockchain development, and DApp development. Bitdeal provides cryptocurrency wallet development services, including hardware wallet, software wallet, web wallet, desktop wallet and paper wallet.

Knackroot Technologies

Founded in 2017 by Ronak and Sandip Patel, Knackroot Technologies is headquartered in Ahmedabad with a presence in Canada, Australia and the US. It offers blockchain development and consulting services.

Knackroot Technologies specialises in smart contract, private blockchain, public blockchain, mining softwares, crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, trading bots and STO. Under its blockchain consulting services, the startup offers services such as use-case analysis, platform evaluations, and product design.

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Blockchain Apps Market Expected to Garnish by 2028| Ethereum, Amazon Quantum Ledger …

A Blockchain (or cryptocurrency) wallet is a software program that basically allows users to buy, sell, send and receive and check balance for their digital currency (or assets) like Bitcoin wallets.

Blockchain is a cryptocurrency blockchain explorer service, as well as a cryptocurrency wallet and a cryptocurrency exchange supporting Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum. They also provide Bitcoin data charts, stats, and market information.

Corda is a blockchain and smart contract platform. Hyperledger is a collaborative effort created to advance blockchain technology by identifying and addressing important features for a cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers that can transform the way business transactions are conducted globally.

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  • Ethereum
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  • Corda
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