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Nigeria’s central bank issues draft guidelines on eNaira CBDC project

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued preliminary guidelines for its proposed eNaira digital currency.

In a sensitization document sent to commercial banks in the country, the CBN outlined several design features of the central bank digital currency (CBDC).

According to the document seen by Cointelegraph, Nigeria’s CBDC is codenamed “Project Giant” and will be pegged to the value of the naira.

Thus, the eNaira will offer parity of value but will not be an interest-bearing currency. The eNaira will run alongside the country’s fiat currency with the CBN responsible for issuing, distributing and redeeming the digital currency among other monitoring and management functions.

Based on the sensitization document, Nigeria’s CBDC will function under a tiered Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer (AML/KYC) structure with different transaction limits.

The bottom of the AML/KYC pyramid will reportedly encompass unbanked citizens who will be mandated to provide their national identity-linked phone numbers for verification. Users in this category will be limited to a daily transaction limit of 50,000 naira (about $120).

Citizens with bank accounts can fall under the second and third tiers depending on the number of AML/KYC steps completed. These two levels will have daily limits of 200,000 naira ($487) and 1 million naira ($2,438) respectively.

Tier three users will likely have to complete a physical AML/KYC verification process in addition to the bank verification number requirements stipulated for tier two.

Users classified as merchants will also fall under the same 1 million-naira limit as tier three but will have no restrictions as to the amount they can send to their bank accounts.

Indeed, the CBN plans to ensure seamless transfers between eNaira wallets and bank accounts with no fees for several types of transactions. The zero-fee structure is likely a means to incentivize the adoption of the digital currency especially amid complaints about the onerous transaction costs associated with mobile and digital banking in the country.

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The CBN document also offered likely process flows for international money transfer operators (IMTO) and the proposed eNaira indicating plans to integrate the digital currency with the central bank’s forex control policies.

The first option proposed by the CBN will see the central bank providing collateralized eNaira credit to IMTOs via their banking partners in the country. A second option might see the CBN pre-funding IMTO accounts but this method might carry significant exchange fluctuation risks.

A third option offered by the CBN will involve the eNaira operating in the current forex architecture where overseas remittance will be cashed out in CBDC by the beneficiary in Nigeria.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the CBN plans to pilot the eNaira project in October. Back in June, the country’s communications minister linked the government’s efforts to drive blockchain adoption as an integral part of digital innovation in Nigeria.

Ghana, Nigeria’s West African neighbor, is also making significant strides with its own CBDC project.