The Perfect Storm
- This year has been busy, and there are four very big things that happened in the world of tech and digital money.
The introduction of the eNaira
The White Paper on Open Banking
The Nigeria Start-Up Act
The Nigeria CBN Cashless Policy
All of the above happened at different times and, seemingly, without central coordination; they weren’t connected but they actually happened and this is a positive. All of the above actions are going to deepen adoption of digital and subsequently lead to more digital investment in Nigeria. A push for digital, by which I mean paperless, cashless and contactless, is a net positive for us all.
I’ve been a fervent supporter of all of these changes, however the idealist in me wishes that there had been a little more centralised coordination to really push through some of the new policies in a practical way. I’ll give you an example. Imagine if the Government had enforced a timeline on all social benefits and the collection of taxes through the eNaira. It would have built upon its own use case and forced people to adopt the new technology. Not overnight, of course - but it would have set us up in the right direction. In addition, imagine the data that they would have collected through enforcing these transactions via a digital platform?
Data collection is something the Nigerian Government isn’t yet particularly adept at; but it has the building blocks in place, not only with the eNaira, but also through Open Banking - literally unlocking capital and information. Everything they need to know about my spending habits - via card payments, via telco use - everywhere, is made easier through Open Banking. And importantly, digital Open Banking also reduces the cost of access to information.
And cost is important; if we are genuinely trying to include millions more people into the financial system in Nigeria, it has to be at a realistic price point and technology that is not only cost effective to roll out, but also cost effective to educate people about. In the contactless payments space, QR codes have seen a meteoric rise in popularity since COVID-19 and they are impossibly simple to use; point the camera at the code and follow the instructions from there. Educating people on new technology and digital adoption can be time consuming and expensive, but the simplicity of QR codes, especially for contactless…