Nigeria’s local fintech companies have raised concerns over the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) decision to engage foreign fintech companies on the eNaira project.
The CBN is believed to engage Barbados-based BITT Incorporation on the Nigeria’s centralised eNaira crpyto project.
This decision to outsource on the project, some agitated Nigerians describe, is a lip service to CBN’s slogan of ‘Buy Naija to grow naira’, a slogan championed by the apex monetary authority.
However, the CBN disclosed to the Nigerian people that, its decision to engage a foreign fintech on project, comes in view of its announcement of the acceptance of the eNaira as “legal tender in the latter part of the year”.
Following the CBN’s decision to outsource on the project, most of Nigeria’s Financial and economics experts have raised varying concerns about the apex bank not putting Nigeria first.
According to one of Nigeria’s Economist and Financial experts, Mr. Kalu Aja, he disclosed that the CBN must ‘practice what they preach’ to the Nigerian people.
“One would have assumed that the Central Bank of Nigeria that preaches ‘Buy Nigerian’ would have selected a local firm as a partner and saved Naira. That would have boosted the local FINTECH economy.”Mr. Kalu Aja
Also, one of Nigeria’s Social Activist and Deputy Director at ActionAid, Ene Obi, while speaking to the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) hinted on the cyber security risks the country stands to face as a result of engaging foreigners on the project.
The Deputy Director’s concerns permeate the current foreign exchange challenges the country is faced with.
“Every nation sticks to its best when it comes to human capital projects such as this. Why neglect the young fintech entrepreneurs?
“Why not challenge them? This has a lot to do with how we think about the future and treat young people. The world is about technology, and we must train and focus on young people to build the future on tech.”Ene Obi
Similar concerns have been raised by one of Nigeria’s Financial Analyst, Uwagbale Edward-Epku, who disclosed that the apex bank is not working in the best interest on Nigerians.
“Central Bank doesn’t work with Nigerian techies to develop its digital currency, e-naira, instead chose to do it with Barbadian startup and techies.
“BITT is a Barbadian-grown company founded by Barbadians, Gabriel Abed and Oliver Gale. The CBN is not helping the Nigerian tech industry.”Uwagbale Edward-Epku
However, the Nigerian fintech industry seems to be doing well. According to McKinsey & Company, between the years 2014 and 2019, the fintech industry in Nigeria has been able to raise over $600 million in funding.
“Nigeria’s bustling fintech scene raised more than $600 million in funding, attracting 25 percent ($122 million) of the $491.6 million raised by African tech startups in 2019 alone, second only to Kenya, which attracted $149 million.”McKinsey & Company
In the meantime, the CBN’s spokesperson Osita Nwanisobi, while speaking to the ICIR on the stakeholder concerns, disclosed that the Bank followed ‘due process’ during the selection process.
“If you own a company and you invite all bidders and you did pre-bidding and pre-qualification, after following the required process, who do you chose among the bidders?”Osita Nwanisobi
Furthermore, Riby Abayomi, a Tech Expert while speaking to the ICIR, recommended that the CBN, despite the shortfalls of the tech firms, should tap into the potential of the industry for the growth of the Nigerian economy.
Meanwhile, the CBN disclosed that the eNaira project tagged ‘Project Giant’ “would be used by the country for cross-border trade, accelerate financial inclusion, cheaper and faster remittance inflow and easier targeted social intervention”.
Also, by assimilating the eNaira into Nigeria’s economy, the CBN disclosed that it will help boost the existing payment system, effectively improve its monetary policies, and aid tax collection (revenue mobilization).