The Central Bank of Nigeria, in line with its mandate to promote stability, inclusion and growth in the financial and payment system, has introduced a national domestic card scheme that becomes effective on January 16, 2023.
Although the bank is yet to disclose the procurement cost and operational charges, Nigerians will from Monday receive a new electronic card for local transactions that will be charged in Nigeria.
The card payment scheme processes payments using debit and credit cards.
The card is expected to compete with other debit cards, including Mastercard, Visa, and Verve cards operating in Nigeria.
The CBN, in conjunction with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc and the Bankers’ Committee made the announcement of the new card scheme at a press briefing in October last year.
At the conference, the Managing Director of NIBSS, Premier Oiwoh, explained that the domestic card scheme would reduce the operating costs of cards in the country for both the issuers and users.
“The card would be optimised for local content solely for the Nigerian market and support micropayment and credit, e-government, identity management, transportation, health and agriculture regarding payment,” Owoh added.
The CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, also corroborated Oiwoh’s position, explaining that Nigeria’s payment ecosystem has grown and can buoy a domestic card scheme.
“Considering the strength and breadth of its banking sector and the rapid growth and transformation of its payments system over the last decade, Nigeria is ideally positioned to successfully launch a national card scheme”, he said.
The new card, expected to unify payments across the banking landscape, is coming at a time Nigerians are fighting commercial banks over alleged dubious and duplicitous charges on their cards.
The card will be delivered through Nigeria’s central switch, the NIBSS, in conjunction with the Bankers Committee and other financial ecosystem stakeholders.
Today’s deployment will enlist Nigeria into the growing list of countries like India, Turkey, China, and Brazil that have launched similar cards for domestic use.
The CBN said, “The domestic card scheme will be an important game changer for financial inclusion in Nigeria.
“The plan is to deliver Africa’s first central bank-driven, domestic card scheme that combines a fully domestic infrastructure with international interoperability. Our plans will enable us to pivot into the largest card scheme in Africa, and amongst the biggest globally.”
However, it could not be ascertained yet if Nigerians would be able to use it for international transactions as its application is for now restricted to local shores.