The Nigerian Central Bank Digital Currency Wallet (CBDC) app will be updated to allow users to pay for utilities such as pay TV and airtime recharge. The addition of the Unstructured Supplemental Service Data (USSD) feature to the wallet app means that people without bank accounts will be able to make payments using CBDC.
The digital currency wallet app of Nigeria’s central bank, e-naira, will be updated and users will be able to pay for normal utilities such as pay TV and airtime top-ups, a bank official said.
According to a report by Nairametrics which quotes official Yusuf Abdul Jelil, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will begin the upgrade process by sending a message to users asking them to update their wallet app. Designated as the CBN’s e-wallet representative, Jelil made the remark while attending an event at Kairo Market in Oshodi, Lagos.
“There will be an update any minute now, and you will get a message on your app inviting you to update your e-wallet for speedy e-nair. Once you update, those services you’re asking for will be available, and you’ll be able to pay for DSTV, buy a recharge card, pay for airline tickets, and so on,” said a CBN spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Jalil is also quoted in a report describing how CBN’s plan to add a USSD feature to the wallet opens the door to CBDC use by non-account holders. According to one financial professional and blogger, USSD may be the best technology available to provide mobile financial services to low-income customers.
Despite the CBN’s initial claims that e-neira would be useful for the financially excluded, the central bank’s CBDC does not come with a USSD feature. The lack of a USSD feature means that e-neira is used by those who already have access to financial services. However, by adding the USSD code 997, the CBN makes CBDC use possible for those without bank accounts.
Meanwhile, Obinna Umeh, secretary of the Oshodi Market Union, is quoted in the report as praising the central bank’s decision to inform Nigerians about the upcoming update. He said that until Jelil’s last message, merchants were inundated with warnings about counterfeit wallets.
“The CBN couldn’t have come at a better time to educate us about electronic naira; there’s almost not a day that goes by that we don’t resolve disputes about fake alerts, time that we could have spent on more productive things,” Umeh explained.
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