Nigerian central bank chooses Bitt for digital dollar

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has secured the services of Barbados-based digital financial technology firm, Bitt Inc, as technical partner for its e-Naira project due for unveiling before the end of the year.

Bitt, which has operations in several Caribbean nations, uses blockchain and distributed ledger technology to facilitate mobile money transactions, making use of its proprietary software and mobile applications.

From left: Nick DeFreitas, business development (Bitt); Oliver Gale, president and co-founder, Bitt; Oliver Jordan, PwC advisory partner; Simon Chantry, COO, Bitt; Gabriel Abed, CEO and co-founder, Bitt; and Patrick Tannis, banking consultant to Bitt. (Photo: Barbados Reporter)

Director of corporate communications at CBN Osita Nwanisobi said in a press statement that the governor of the central bank, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed the decision in Abuja this week. The Government of Nigeria statement said the firm was chosen through a highly competitive bidding process and selected for “its technological competence, efficiency, platform security, interoperability, and implementation experience.”

The governor said benefits of the e-Naira would include increased cross-border trade and accelerated financial inclusion.

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Godwin Emefiele (Photo: Bloomberg)

Bitt Inc developed and launched the central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in April 2021.

The Nigerian Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), codenamed Project Giant, started in 2017, after what the CBN described as “extensive research and explorations”.

One report notes that previously, the Nigerian Central Bank banned financial institutions from processing cryptocurrency-related transactions, but Nigerian youths persisted as leading investors in the assets.

The turnaround is said to have arisen “following the significant explosion in the use of digital payments and the rise in the digital economy with over 85 per cent of central banks contemplating CBDCs,” it was noted.