The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in a partnership with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS), have unveiled the country’s first ever National payment card named AfriGo.
At the virtual launch event which took place on Thursday, January 26th, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele claimed that the new card scheme is tailored to address unique needs not met by existing card products. He added that the card will be similar to international payment cards, and aims to increase financial access as well as decrease reliance on foreign cards in the country.
“The national domestic card avails us the sovereignty of our data. Secondly, it comes at lower costs,” Emefiele said.
Emefiele further stated that the scheme will address the ongoing foreign exchange challenges as the card will immediately allow for all online transactions to take place on the Nigerian national domestic system.
“NIBSS and CBN will work together to make sure foreign exchange is charged for only international transactions made on Visa and Mastercards as we have it now. This is so because many of the cards we use currently charge in foreign currency. However, with the launch of the national domestic card, all domestic transactions are to be carried out on the national domestic card scheme,” he added.
With this development, Nigeria becomes the first African country to have a specially designated local card, following in the footsteps of China, Brazil, India and Turkey. The introduction of the new local cards will not hinder the use of already-existing international cards but will rather offer additional options for Nigerians to choose from.
In October 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria announced that it would launch a national domestic card scheme in January, 2023. The scheme is set to rival a market dominated by MasterCard, Visa and Verve.
The CBN Governor outlined some of the proposed benefits of the national card saying it provides an opportunity to integrate the informal sector of the country’s economy into the financial system. He also claimed that it will reduce the cost for which Nigerian banks produce cards and also lower the need for Foreign exchange to get foreign cards.
Aisha Ahmad, Chairman of NIBSS and Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, also spoke on the development saying: “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, source of national pride.”