The Benefit of E-naira to Unbanked Nigerians
1.1 Background of the study
Many millions, if not billion of people will be able to use a range of convenient, accessible, and dependable financial instruments for the first time in the not-too-distant future, regardless of their proximity to traditional financial institutions. According to Global Findex database (2017), nearly 1.7 billion individuals remain unbanked without an account at a financial institution or through a mobile money provider. In 2014, that number was 2 billion. This is because account ownership is essentially ubiquitous in high-income nations, whereas virtually all unbanked adults live in emerging economies. Record from this data set indicated that over 980 million people do not have a bank account, accounting for 56 percent of all unbanked adults globally. In most economies, women outnumber men among the unbanked. This is true even in economies that have effectively raised account ownership and have a relatively small number of people who are unbanked.
China and India, despite having relatively high account ownership, claim huge portions of the worldwide unbanked population due of their sheer size. Home to 225 million individuals without an account, China has the world’s biggest unbanked population, followed by India (190 million), Pakistan (100 million), and Indonesia (95 million) (95 million). Indeed, these four economies, combined with three others (Nigeria, Mexico, and Bangladesh), are home to about half the world’s unbanked population. Even Nevertheless, financial inclusion stakeholders note to a paucity of key information on trends and dynamics in these relatively young digital financial services markets(World Bank 2018). (World Bank 2018). Knowledge gaps that need to be addressed include how to create size and sustainability, and how best to guarantee these marketplaces reach financially inadequately served and excluded populations, including the poor, rural inhabitants, and women. Women are overly represented among the world’s unbanked.
The “Unbanked” is an informal word for adults in a society who do not utilize banks,neither their services or financial institutions in any capacity (Fletcher, T. 2021). (Fletcher, T. 2021). Fletcher also underlined that Unbanked persons often pay for products in cash or else purchase money orders or prepaid debit cards. Unbanked persons are also less likely to have insurance, pensions, or other professional money-management services. If alternative financial services, such as check cashing and payday loans, are accessible to them, they may take use of them. While unbanked adults are more common in poor nations, pockets of unbanked adults exist in wealthy countries as well, including the United States.
However, policy makers within developing economihave resorted to finding out why such a large portion of adults are unbanked. While some surveys revealed that the most commonly cited barrier was a lack of sufficient funds, nearly two-thirds of adults without a bank account said that there were no banks in their area, so some traders resort to personal savings through local contributions (popularly known as “Ajo” in Yoruba, “Akawo” in Igbo), particularly in rural areas. Recognizing that this is not always the safest option, some developing economies have adopted digital currency as a means of encouraging adults who are earning money but are unable to open an account due to the numerous drawbacks associated with banking systems.
Notably, having amore inclusive financial systems has been linked to stronger and more sustainable economic growth and development, thus, achieving financial inclusion has become a priority for many countries across the globe, which is why some of them have adopted the digitization of money instead of cash currencies only. Digital currencies, according to Gilbert, Scott, and Loi, Hio. (2018), have qualities comparable to traditional currencies but, unlike currencies with printed banknotes or minted coins, do not typically have a physical form. The lack of a tangible form enables for near-instantaneous transactions through the internet and eliminates the costs of transmitting notes and coins. As a result, digital currencies will continue to be helpful for inter-party transactions as long as both parties acknowledge the currency’s legitimacy, as they offer the benefit of quick settlement, particularly in online communities. Although cryptocurrency is the most popular form of digital currency, there are thousands of them in the modern world, each of which operates and enjoys security thanks to the respective encryption codes mutually adopted by the parties in such transactions, especially since most governments around the world have shied away from conferring any form of endorsement and legitimacy on transactions conducted through such channels.
Given the rising popularity of digital currency, various governments throughout the world, including Nigeria, have begun to express interest in digital currency activities, with the CBDC option emerging as the preferred entry point. In that regard, the CBN’s move to introduce the e-Naira must be considered the Nigerian government’s first foray into the digital currency world. As a result of this rapid technical advancement and financial market growth, international economies have begun to transition from paper money to digital currency, with Nigerian economies following suit.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Nigeria has one of the lowest levels of financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa, ranking below both its peer group and lower-income nations. Nigeria’s financial inclusion rate is now around 44 percent, one of the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa and well below its middle-income peers, making payment collection difficult according to Abdulkareem (2021). Despite having rather strong mobile network coverage in various regions of the nation and high mobile penetration, a substantial section of the Nigerian population (90 percent) has little or no understanding about alternate methods of obtaining financial services, including the usage of mobile money (Abdulkareem, 2021). Prior to the introduction of the electronic naira, the paper naira in Nigeria had a severe foreign currency crisis, and the naira’s pace of depreciation aroused widespread worry among citizens, necessitating the need to test an alternate legal tender. Which led to the launching of eNaira by CBNin an effort to increase financial inclusion and mobile money use.
According to Ayodeji (2021), e-Naira offers speedy transactions, low diaspora remittances, direct government help, easier local payments, and safe banking. This is confirmed by an article released in premium times (2021), which affirmed e-Naira will allows users to transmit money, save money, and save time all at the same time. It will also enable them to boycott bank lines, long protocols, and poor service, and make bill payments from the comfort of their own home, even in the absence of a personal bank account which answers the anxieties of the unbanked people (Kalu, 2021). While this is debatable, it is against the backdrop that this study seeks to provide a critical analysis of the benefits of e-naira for unbanked Nigerians.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The broad objective is to examine the benefits of e-naira for unbanked Nigerians. Specifically, the study seeks to:
- Ascertain the features of eNaira as introduced by CBN
- Examine if eNiara usage will enhance the payment system of rural individual subscribers.
iii. Determine if the invention of eNaira will be of great benefit to unbanked Nigeria.
1.4 Research Hypothesis
HO1: The invention of eNaira will not be of great benefit to unbanked Nigeria.
HO2: e-Niara usage will not enhance the payment system of rural individual subscribers.
1.5 Significance of the Study
Findings from the study will be of great significance to policy makers, development experts, financial institutions, and the general public, especially the unbaked population. The study based on its findings will be useful to the professional bodies regulating the eNaira platform, hence it will keep them informed about public perception of the newly launched platforms. Additionally, the study will serve as a source of information to researchers, students and other academic inclined individuals who may be carrying out research on a related topic.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study borders on the benefits of enaira to unbanked Nigerians. It will ascertain the features of the eNaira as introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria. It will also examine if eNiara usage will enhance the payment systems of rural individual subscribers. However, the study is delimited to Ekiti Metropolis in Ekiti State, Nigeria.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Unbanked:The unbanked are adults who do not have their own bank accounts. Along with the underbanked, they may rely on alternative financial services for their financial needs, where these are available.
The Naira: This is the basic monetary unit of Nigeria.
Digital Currency: Digital currencies are money that exist not in physical form but only as electronic data, but perform the basic functions of money, being a unit of account, store of value, and means of exchange.
ENaira: eNaira is the name given to the CBN’s first proposed digital currency. eNaira is a central bank digital currency (CBDC) issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria as a legal tender. It is the digital form of the Naira and will be used just like cash.
Ayodeji A. (2021) eNaira: We’re not out to steal your customers, CBN tells banks. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/business/business-news/487082-enaira-were-not-out-to-steal-your-customers-cbn-tells-banks.html
Abdulkareem M. (2021) Businesses in Nigeria must accept e-Naira – CBN retrived from https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/more-news/486095-businesses-in-nigeria-must-accept-e-naira-cbn.html
DAILY TRUST (2021) Nine Things You Need To Know About E-Naira retrived from https://dailytrust.com/nine-things-you-need-to-know-about-e-naira
Ezuwore- O., Eyisi A., Emengini S., & Alio F.(2014) A Critical Analysis of Cashless Banking Policy in Nigeria. IOSR Journal of Business and Management (IOSR-JBM) e-ISSN: 2278-487X, p-ISSN: 2319-7668. Volume 16, Issue 5. Ver. V (May. 2014), PP 30-42www.iosrjournals.org
Kalu Aja (2021) All you need to know about the e-Naira set to be launched on October 1 retrived from https://nairametrics.com.
The Global Findex Database (2017)Measuring Financial Inclusion and the Fintech Revolution retrieved from from https://globalfindex.worldbank.org/sites/globalfindex/files/2018-04/2017%20Findex%20full%20report_0.pdf
Fletcher, Terry (2021-10-19). “Strengthening Financial Inclusion on MCC’s Scorecard”. Millennium Challenge Corporation. Retrieved 2021-10-21.