1.     It gives me a great pleasure to grace this event today as we mark another milestone in our journey towards building the future monetary system of our dear country in response to the emerging trends and developments in the global digital space.

2.     It would interest you to know that Nigeria was put in a global spotlight last year on October 25, when His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR launched the eNaira, making Nigeria the first African country to launch a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). As captured in the design paper released, eNaira is a journey, not a one-time event. Remarkably, this hackathon event is a continuation of that journey, and the first among many to come given that the future of central banking is inextricably bound to innovation. 

3.     Pursuant to achieving its mandate of preserving monetary and financial stability, the CBN is strategic in charting the future of Nigeria’s legal tender, be it in its traditional or digital form as the economy transits to a digital one as well as charting the course for innovation in the financial sector and in the infrastructure underpinning financial markets. Hence, the importance of getting the balance right between innovation and stability.

4.     Against this background, the launch of eNaira was timely and strategic in complementing the various diversification and digitisation initiatives of the Federal Government including the launch of the Nigeria Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), The National Broadband Strategy, as well as the introduction of the Start-Up Bill and a host of others. 

5.     As simply encapsulated in our popular mantra, the eNaira is the same Naira with far more possibilities. The eNaira will make a significant positive difference to Nigeria and Nigerians. Specifically, the eNaira is expected to enhance financial inclusion, support poverty reduction, enable direct welfare disbursement to citizens, support a resilient payments ecosystem, improve availability and usability of central bank money, facilitate diaspora remittances, reduce the cost of processing cash, and reduce cost and improve efficiency of cross-border payment among others. 

6.     The eNaira was also developed to provide Nigerians with a cheap,  safe and trusted means of payment. Unlike  the offline payments channels like agent networks, USSD, wearables, cards and near field communication technology, the eNaira would give access to financial services to underserved and unbanked segments of the population. Innovative products and services built on the eNaira would enhance Nigerians’ participation in the digital economy and promote further development of a burgeoning Fintech ecosystem. 

7.     To achieve these set out objectives, the project adopted a phased- approach with the first phase focusing on banked users, while the policy objective of the second phase borders around financial inclusion. In addition, the eNaira platform possesses an innovation layer for products and services to be built with the aim of enhancing Nigerians’ participation in the digital economy and promoting further development of a burgeoning Fintech ecosystem. 

8.     Since the launch of this great initiative, the eNaira has reached 840,000 downloads, with about 270,000 active wallets comprising over 252,000 consumer wallets and 17,000 merchant wallets. In addition, volume and value of transactions on the platform have been remarkable, reaching above 200,000 and N4.0 billion, respectively. 

9.     Notwithstanding this appreciable progress, the second phase of the project has begun and is is intended to drive financial inclusion by onboarding unbanked and underserved users leveraging offline channels. Hence, greater success is envisioned for the project with phase two expected to deliver more gains with a target of about 8,000,000 active users based on estimations using the diffusion of innovation model.

10.                        Ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate the successes achieved so far including the global recognition of the great job on-going by the CBN, it must be acknowledged that the journey is iterative and therefore, requires cutting-edge innovation to sustain the vision and achieve the set-out policy objectives.

11.                        Therefore, it is important to note that “Enabling Private Sector Innovation” is one of the three (3) foundational principles of Central bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Thus, this hackathon event today is neither a coincidence nor an accident but rather another forward leap by the Central Bank of Nigeria in the implementation of eNaira, to ensure all Nigerians receive the full benefits of a Central bank Digital Currency (CBDC). The Hackathon is an initiative that creates a collaborative environment for experts with a diverse set of skills  to drive sustained innovation geared towards making the eNaira the pinnacle for digital financial services and the gateway to the Digital Economy.

12.                          It is intended to sought solutions that would: drive financial inclusion, SME growth and the creation of start-ups; facilitate cross border trades and transfers as well as international remittances and FX exchanges; effective implementation of welfare-inclined government programs; and enhance efficiency in the interbank market. Therefore, today’s event is targeted at providing an engagement with critical stakeholders in the financial technology spaceto deepen the link between eNaira and Fintechs.


13.                        Ladies and Gentlemen, it is pertinent to mention the eNaira hackathon recorded a sizeable interest from young and innovative Nigerians with a total of 4,667 registrations, comprising 4,082 male and 582 female applicants. This further corroborates the fact that Nigerians, both within and outside the country, possess innovative ideas and are willing and ready to leverage on exciting opportunities that the eNaira presents for enhancing  digital financial services and contributing to national development. 

14.                        Ladies and Gentlemen, from the presentations made over the course of this eNaira Hackathon, I am confident that it will unravelled a pool of talents that would fuel the transformation of Nigeria into a world class digital economy and beyond.  From an initial cohort of over 105 groups that made the quarter finals and 75 teams that progressed to the semi-finals, the Hackathon has reached its climax today with 20 teams in the finals from which the top 10 teams would emerge as Prize winners. 

15.                        At this juncture, permit me to salute the various teams and their members that have worked day and night to painstakingly articulate their pitches and prototypes, particularly those present here at the finals.  Congratulations on making it to this final stage of birthing innovative solutions for a modern Nigeria and the first step towards expanding  the Central Bank of Nigeria’s  innovative financial ecosystem 

16.                        Let me  also use this medium to acknowledge the partnership and unwavering support of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy through NITDA and the partnership with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. I would also like to commend the African Fintech Foundry and members of the Project Giant for their efforts in the successful organisation of the Hackathon. 

17.                        I thank you for your attention.