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CBN, NIBSS activate ‘AfriGo’, national domestic card scheme for consumers

Photo: MSME Africa

*Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, discloses the launch of the National Domestic Card Scheme, ‘AfriGo’ is a major step in ensuring a thriving and competitive payment landscape in the economy in line with global trends

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in partnership with the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) has launched the National Domestic Card Scheme, ‘AfriGo’.

ConsumerConnect reports the Bankers’ Bank stated the initiative is meant to transform the Nigerian payment system.

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of CBN, disclosed this development Thursday, January 26, 2023, during the virtual launch of the National Domestic Card Scheme.

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of CBN

Emefiele noted the activation of the card was another major step to ensure a thriving and competitive payment landscape in Nigeria.

The CBN Governor 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.”

He also stated that “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.”

Emefiele further noted  while the penetration of card payments in Nigeria has grown tremendously over the years, several Nigerian consumers are still excluded from the electronic payments system.

According to him, the challenges that have limited the inclusion of Nigerians included the high cost of card services as a result of Foreign Exchange (Forex) requirements of international card schemes, and the fact that existing card products did  not address local peculiarities of the Nigerian market.

The Central Bank of Nigeria said given the limited usage of cards by consumers, and in a bid to deepen penetration, the banks actively promoted National Domestic card scheme, which would be accessible to all Nigerians, and address local peculiarities.

The scheme is, therefore, an important plot in closing the gap that has remained since the cashless policy was introduced in 2012, stated he.

Emefiele said: “It is important to note that the establishment of national domestic card scheme is in line with 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.”

Benefits of ‘AfriGo’ card payment

The Governor of CBN stated among others, that “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 also noted that the national domestic card scheme will 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.

Emefiele said: “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.”

In her address at the forum, Aisha Ahmad, Chairman of NIBSS and Deputy Governor of CBN in Charge of Financial System Stability, also said the forward thinking regulatory stance of the Bank had offered unique opportunities to drive cashless transactions to boost financial inclusion, deepen the financial system and promote inclusive economic growth.

Ahmad noted the NIBSS has also become an important reference point for a variety of participants in the ecosystem, as the body had paved the way for this latest initiative.

“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, Technical Consultant on the Nigerian National Domestic Card Scheme, said the West African country had been a regional leader in several  aspects of global payment trends, and is now ready to adopt the opportunities of the domestic card scheme.

Walden said: “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.”

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Premier Oiwoh, Managing Director of NIBSS, disclosed the card 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 stated that AfriGo is also designed to provide innovative offerings tailored to the Nigerian market and beyond.

AfriGOpay Financial Services Limited (AFSL) is an affiliate of the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS).

The company will be responsible for deploying and managing the National Domestic Card Scheme for Nigeria, agency report said.

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