ABUJA: Nigeria's Central Bank is preparing a digital currency pilot that could launch as early as the end of this year, its director of information technology said in a recording heard by Reuters on Friday.
Nigeria barred its banks and financial institutions from dealing in or facilitating transactions in cryptocurrencies in February after exponential growth in monthly cryptocurrency transfers to and from Africa.
Central Bank director of information technology Rakiya Mohammed said the project to create some form of digital currency had been in the works for two years, and more announcements were likely in the coming weeks.
"We're all aware that about 80per cent of central banks in the world exploring the possibility of issuing central bank digital currency, and Nigeria cannot be left behind," Mohammed said in the June 10 virtual briefing with bankers.
The Central Bank communications team shared a recording of the briefing with Reuters.
She said the system would expand digital inclusion, make remittances from the diaspora easier and smooth international purchases for Nigerians.
"If you have a central bank digital currency that is backed by the government, then people can make transactions online without fear of any default," Mohammed said.
Europe and the United States are working on regulating digital assets and their providers, while some other countries, including China, Britain and Russia, are also considering launching their own central bank digital currencies.
(Reporting By Camillus Eboh, writing by Libby George; editing by Philippa Fletcher)