Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it has collaborated with the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) to launch the National Domestic Card Scheme, ‘AfriGo’, to transform the Nigerian payment system. The Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, made this known on Thursday at a virtual launch of the National Domestic Card Scheme. Emefiele said the launch was another major step to ensure a thriving and competitive payment landscape in Nigeria. He said “I am gratified that the Nigerian banking community has risen up to the challenge of the national payment system through the implementation of a National Domestic Card Scheme.
”The cashless policy which commenced in 2012 signposts our core drive to strengthen the national payment system and the usage of electronic platforms in Nigeria. In line with the National payment system strategy, the CBN has been deliberate in collaborating with relevant stakeholders to enhance the national payments infrastructure through initiatives such as the Bank Verification Number (BVN). We will all agree that the cashless policy has created value and gender competition, attracted investments into the Nigerian banking and payments ecosystem,” he said. The CBN governor said that while the penetration of card payments in Nigeria had grown tremendously over the years, many Nigerians were still excluded. He said the challenges that had limited the inclusion of Nigerians included the high cost of card services as a result of foreign exchange requirements of international card schemes and the fact that existing card products did not address local peculiarities of the Nigerian market.
He said that given the limited usage of cards by Nigerians and in a bid to deepen penetration, the banks actively promoted National Domestic card scheme, which would be accessible to all Nigerians and also address local peculiarities. Emefiele said the scheme was therefore, an important plot in closing the gap that had remained since the cashless policy was introduced in 2012. ”It is important to note that the establishment of national domestic card scheme is in line with domestic global trends. With this initiative, Nigeria will be joining countries like China, Russia, Turkey and India, who have launched domestic card schemes, because of its transformative benefits for their respective payments and financial systems, particularly for the underbanked. The initiative is aimed at providing more options for domestic consumers while promoting delivery of services in a more innovative, cost effective and competitive manner,” he said.
Emefiele said the national domestic card scheme would provide opportunities for the economy to integrate the informal segments of the economy, reduce shadow banking and bring Nigerians into the formal financial services system. “I look forward to more innovative products and services which will leverage on the national domestic card to avail digital financial services across all geographies and economic classes in Nigeria. It is important to note that all domestic transactions that are conducted in Nigeria will have to go through the national domestic card. This does not stop the usage of other existing cards but given that the charges on those cards are in dollars, we will no longer pay for those charges,” he said. Also speaking, Aisha Ahmad, the Chairman of NIBSS and CBN Deputy Governor in Charge of Financial System Stability, said the forward thinking regulatory stance of the CBN had offered unique opportunities to drive cashless transactions to boost financial inclusion, deepen the financial system and promote inclusive economic growth.
She said that NIBSS had also become an important reference point for a variety of participants in the ecosystem, as they had paved the way for this latest initiative. Ahmad said ”We shall all be witness to a strategic turning point for our payment system because the Nigerian National Domestic card scheme is the first CBN led domestic IT initiative in Africa. ”The card will give us sovereignty over data, save costs and present new list of opportunities for those in the card business. This scheme was birthed with continental aspirations to make AfriGO a payment beacon for the African continent,” she said . Andrew Walden, the Technical Consultant on the Nigerian National Domestic Card Scheme, said that Nigeria had been a regional leader in many of the global payment trends and was now ready to adopt the opportunities of the domestic card scheme.
“Nigeria has played an enviable role in advancing the forefront of revolution in the payment industry. This scheme provides an opportunity for Nigeria to cement its place at the forefront of digital payments innovation,” he said. Mr Premier Oiwoh, Managing Director of NIBSS, said that the scheme was developed to promote a robust in-country domestic card payment scheme tailored to address the specific requirements of Nigeria’s payment industry. He said it was also to provide innovative offerings tailored to the Nigerian market and beyond. AfriGOpay Financial Services Ltd. (AFSL) is an affiliate of the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) and will be responsible for deploying and managing the National Domestic Card Scheme for Nigeria.