The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) have unveiled Nigeria’s first National payment card named AfriGo.
At the virtual unveiling yesterday, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the card was designed to cater to local peculiarities that the existing card products have failed to address.
Emefiele said the card, which will function like other international payment cards, is aimed at boosting financial inclusion in the country and reducing dependence on foreign cards.
According to him, with the AfriGo card, Nigeria has joined countries like China, Russia, Turkey, and India, which have their local cards. He noted that the operation of the local cards will not prevent the use of the existing international cards but will provide more options for Nigerians.
On the benefits of the National card, the apex bank Governor said AfriGo provides an opportunity to integrate the informal sector of the economy into the financial system.
He said this will also lower the cost of card production for Nigerian banks and reduce the need for forex to acquire foreign cards.
Also speaking on what Nigeria stands to gain from the card, the Deputy Governor of CBN and Chairman of NIBSS, Aisha Ahmad, said: “With the implementation of the National Domestic Card Scheme, the industry will reap potential benefits which include improved transaction security, better pricing opportunities, reduced demand for FX and less pressure on the Naira, locally relevant partnerships and offerings developing local skills in card and payment space.
“Other advantages include a boost to financial inclusion, value retention, flexible and innovative scale, and a source of national pride.”She added that based on the global card ownership statistics report, the Nigerian adult population owns about 32 per cent and three per cent of Debit & Credit cards.
“This ranks Nigeria as the 75th in the world in debit card to population ratio and 114th in the world in credit card to population ratio.
“Nigeria has a low card-to-population ratio when it is benchmarked globally, and this has a major impact on the government’s drive to aggressively boost financial inclusion.”
Ahmad informed that the AfriGo card was developed by AfriGopay Financial Services Limited, an affiliate of NIBSS and licensed by the CBN. The Company is responsible for deploying and managing the National Domestic Card Scheme for Nigeria.
According to analysts, the new Domestic Card Scheme is a robust in-country scheme tailored to address the specific requirements of Nigeria’s payment industry and provide innovative offerings tailored to the Nigerian market and beyond.
They claimed that the scheme will transform the domestic and African payment landscape through the promotion of innovation in the payment, enhancement of interoperability domestically and internationally and improvement in the suite of products and solutions offerings by banks and other financial institutions such as debit, credit, virtual, loyalty and tokenized cards.
According to them, the National Domestic Card set to be delivered to over 200 million Nigerians offers unique value propositions through enhanced data sovereignty and transaction security, better pricing opportunities, reduced demand for FX, enhanced financial access and support of the growth of a robust and inclusive digital economy, amongst others.