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Nigerians Skeptical About New Digital Currency Days After Launch


Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, center, and Central Bank governor Godwin Emefiele, right, launch digital currency eNaira in Abuja, Oct. 25, 2021.

Thousands of Nigerians are expressing concern about the country's new digital currency after its user app was temporarily removed from the Google Play store this week. The app has recorded tens of thousands of downloads since its launch on Monday.

Central Bank authorities said a system glitch unable to handle the huge amount of traffic on the download site led to the temporary removal of the eNaira Speed Wallet.

They say the problem has been resolved.

The eNaira app has recorded over 100,000 downloads on the Google Play store alone since launching on Monday. But thousands of early users say they encountered many difficulties.

Among them was Ogunbiyi Olubiyi, who runs a Lagos-based digital company.

"It's a great initiative by the Central Bank, they're positioning for the future which means they're heading somewhere with this. But the execution could have been better," Olubiyi said.

Nigerian authorities restricted cryptocurrency transactions in the country earlier this year and promised to create a safer option for citizens - the eNaira.

The government expects to leverage the blockchain technology to improve financial inclusion, ease cross-border trades, increase remittances and boost the economy.

But users like Abuja stock trader Leonard Nwankwo worry about hacking. Nwankwo says the Central Bank's terms offer no insurance in the event of losses of revenues or profits.

"Whether it's an error that is caused by them or an error that is not caused by them, so that is to tell you that only the consumers of this product or investors in this currency are bearing 100% risk, so an agent can decide to do something dubious and he's free to go because by limitations of liability he's not to be held accountable," Nwankwo.

Olubiyi says more awareness is needed to boost user confidence on the eNaira platform.

"I don't think that people downloaded and tried the app before they began to report it. You see that is due to mistrust. I think the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) needs to go on a campaign, introducing and educating people about the eNaira and how it's going to be solving problems in their lives," Olubiyi.

Central banks around the world are adopting digital versions of their legal tenders. The Nigerian government hopes that the eNaira will boost Nigeria's gross domestic product by $29 billion in the next 10 years.

But experts say that goal can only be achieved if end users have confidence in authorities and the currency itself.

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