Podcast: an update on the e-naira project

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) should be created to complement stablecoins, says Imran Khan, head of partnerships at Bitt.

“Central bank digital currencies are simply a digital form of a national currency, and a stablecoin is an asset which aims to be pegged to the value of another asset,” he explains in Central Banking’s latest Partners in Focus podcast.

“For this reason, the public are likely to understand that CBDCs offer greater levels of safety and reduced risk of value fluctuations and counterparty risks… but I believe both can coexist.”

Khan, who is leading Bitt’s efforts in Nigeria in in relation to the launch of an ‘e-naira’, believes CBDCs and stablecoins will interoperate with one another in the future.

“Stablecoins will support more innovation and even identify new use cases for this new form of money [CBDC],” he says.

Bitt’s digital currency management system was chosen by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank in 2019 for the deployment of its own CBDCDCash – earlier this year.

Since then, the global fintech company has partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria for the launch of its own CBDC, and the National Bank of Belize, a commercial bank, for a local stablecoin launch.

The CBN’s e-naira system uses a digital wallet, which can be downloaded from a dedicated website. The system is based on a blockchain-based distributed ledger, can be used for peer-to-peer and business transactions and bears no interest, also like cash.

Khan explains that because Nigerians rarely visit banks in person, they had to prioritise bank integration as part of the e-naira’s initial deployment, which was a “challenge” due to the short timeframe within which the CBDC was rolled out.

“I was impressed with the speed in which the banks were able to mobilise and collaborate on these integrations and today, Nigerians are able to use their online and mobile banking accounts and move money from their deposit accounts to their e-naira wallets,” Khan explains.

Bitt’s partnership with the National Bank of Belize is slightly different to its CBDC projects. When it is publicly launched, users of the commercial bank’s new platform – known as NBB Pay – will be able to use the Bitt-developed digital wallet and stablecoins to make transactions.

Index

00:00 Introduction

01:12 Nigeria’s payment landscape

03:12 Technical specifications

06:09 Blockchain interoperability

08:08 Future drivers to CBDC issuance

10:40 Interaction with stablecoins

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