CBN Launches National Domestic Card Scheme

…Mulls FX Payment Restriction On Visa, Master Cards

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in collaboration with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS), and Bankers Committee have launched the long awaited National Domestic Card Scheme.

CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele who performed the virtual launch of the scheme on Thursday, said, it would ensure stability, inclusion and growth in the financial and payment system in the country.

With the launch, Nigeria has joined a growing list of countries like India, Turkey, China and Brazil as leading examples – which have launched domestic card schemes and harnessed the transformative benefits for their respective payments and financial systems, particularly for the underbanked.

Speaking, Emefiele said, the Nigerian Banks have risen to the challenge of strengthening the Nigerian financial payment system with the launch of the scheme.

He said, with the global foreign exchange challenges, “all online and domestic transactions that are going to be conducted in Nigeria will have to be through the National Domestic cards”.

The apex bank governor said, there was no plan to stop the usage of the existing payment cards like Visa and Master cards in the country, however, he said, “given that charges by foreign cards are in dollars, we will no longer pay dollars for the charges on those cards. Particularly, we would only pay dollars for charges for transactions that are done with whether they are domestic cards or foreign cards outside Nigeria.

“I thought it is important for me to say so not because there’s any preference for the domestic card but what is most important is that we do not have foreign exchange for domestic transactions from the Nigerian foreign exchange market at some point in the very near future’, Emefiele said.

Earlier, the Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability Directorate, CBN, Mrs Aishah Ahmad was enthusiastic over the launch of the scheme in Nigeria.

Mrs Ahmad said, the Afrigopay Financial Services Limited (AFSL) in conjunction with CBN and Bankers Committee have developed a robust in-country Domestic Card Payment Scheme tailored to address the specific requirements of Nigeria’s payment industry and provide innovative offerings tailored to the Nigerian market and beyond.

She said, the AFSL, a local card scheme duly licensed by the CBN, was an affiliate of the NIBSS and responsible for deploying and managing the scheme for Nigeria.

The deputy governor said, with the implementation of the scheme, the industry would reap potential benefits such as: improved transactional security, better pricing opportunities, interchange fee reduction, 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, according to her, include: a boost to financial inclusion, value retention, flexible and innovative scale, source of national pride.

She said, “based on the global card ownership statistics report, the Nigerian adult population owns about 32% and 3% Debit and 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 in the government’s drive to aggressively boost financial inclusion’’, she added.

Also speaking, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NIBSS, Premier Oiwoh said, the National Domestic Card Scheme was developed by the stakeholders to bridge the card penetration gap in the country.

Oiwoh said, with the current pace of card population ratio, financial inclusion and cashless society drive would be difficult to grow and sustained.

He noted that existing ATMs, Cards and POS would still function without interruption, adding that it would co-exist with other card schemes in the country as it is in other global economies.

CBN said, the scheme would foster innovation within the Nigerian domestic market, while enabling African and international interoperability, allowing banks and other institutions to offer a variety of solutions including debit, credit, virtual, loyalty and tokenised cards amongst others.

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