The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that plans are in top gear to commence the offering of digital currency before the end of 2021.
The Director of Information Technology (IT) of the CBN, Rukayat Mohammed, made the disclosure at the briefing of the Bankers' Committee virtually.
Mohammed said: "Very soon we would make an announcement on the date for the launch and by the end of the year, we should have the digital currency. We would possibly launch a pilot scheme in order to provide this kind of currency to the populace."
She said about 80 percent of central banks in the world are exploring the possibility of issuing the central bank's digital currency and Nigeria cannot be left behind.
On the banning of cryptocurrency, she said, "Let me state categorically that cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and the rest of them are not under the control of the central bank; they are purely private decisions that individuals make."
The Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, said one of the key items discussed at the meeting was how to ensure that all card schemes would be registered locally.
The Managing Director of Fidelity bank, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, disclosed that the CBN has made available sufficient foreign exchange to meet the legitimate needs of every traveller.
"The BDCs would continue to have their weekly allocations and the banks would have additional allocations."
Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria Limited, Patrick Akinwuntan, said as the economy is being powered to grow post COVID-19, SMEs continue to be of critical relevance.
"All banks have been told to ensure that all demands for forex are met and the central bank reiterated its willingness to support the functioning of SMEs."
Meanwhile the apex bank said it has received over one million applications for the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) designed to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on households and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, made the disclosure at the 2021 Lagos/Abeokuta CBN fair held yesterday.
Represented by the Director of Corporate Communication of the CBN, Osita Nwasunobi, he said: "At the advent of the COVID-19 interventions, the governor set aside N50bn. but the request was overwhelming. Then he made N100 billion and now at the last MPC meeting, he announced that the bank will make N400bn.
"As we speak, the CBN has received over one million applications in respect of this particular intervention.
"So for us, it is a means of monitoring our interventions, a means of evaluating our programmes and looking out whether what we are doing is actually impactful to the Nigerian public."