The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced, through the Director IT department, Rakiya Mohammed, that it will start the pilot phase of its digital currency on the 1st of October.
The resolution was made during a private webinar on Thursday, where the CBN and its stakeholders outlined a digital currency initiative.
The apex bank had in June, announced plans to launch its own digital currency before the close of the year. It said about 80% of apex banks, globally, are currently exploring the possibility of issuing their central bank digital currency (CBDC) and Nigeria has refused to be left out of the loop.
At the stakeholders meeting, Rakiya Mohammed, explained that the CBN had been conducting researches on developing a digital currency, since 2017.
According to Mohammed, the project is tagged ‘GIANT’ and it will use the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain.
Hyperledger Fabric is an open source project that acts as a foundation for developing blockchain-based products, solutions, and applications, using plug-and-play components that are aimed for use within private enterprises.
The announcement by the CBN came as an irony, as the apex bank had in recent times, been involved in controversial policies against digital currencies, and their usage in the country.
The CBN had earlier in the year, banned cryptocurrency transactions in the country, warning that cryptocurrencies pose the risk of loss of investments, money laundering, terrorism financing, illicit fund flow, and other criminal activities.
If this launch of the digital coin go as planned, it would place Nigeria in the same class as countries like China and the Bahamas, both of which have officially launched a digital coin.
It would also place Nigeria as the first African country to launch a digital coin.
The Bahamas had issued its sand dollar in 2020, while the Chinese apex bank began issuing its digital yuan in April 2021.
Other countries across the globe are also racing to develop their CBDC. Some of these countries include South Africa (digital Rand), Tunisia (eDinar), Ghana (e-cedi), Sweden, Japan, South Korea, and Russia.