The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with the Nigerian Interbank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) is set to launch the National Domestic Card Scheme AfriGo. The scheme, which was first presented at a press conference hosted by the Bankers Committee in October 2022, engages the central bank in monopolizing the market for card payment schemes.
Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefele speaks during the virtual launch of the new Nigerian card, as he claims the initiative will promote financial inclusion and standardize the card’s financial statements in Nigeria while also serving as a source of national pride for those who adopt it. The Governor of the Bank of Canada stated, “The National Home Card benefits us with our data sovereignty. Second, it comes with lower costs.”
Nigeria remains a large player market in the card payments market, which is largely dominated by global players such as Mastercard and Visa, with Verve by Interswitch declining. The annual value of card transactions in the Nigerian cards and payments market will be set at $18.2 billion in 2021.
These multinational companies offer centralized payment networks, which link them with debit and credit cards to allow and simplify cash withdrawals using the card. Customers can then collect the cards from banks, financial institutions or even retail stores.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, in collaboration with the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), is positioning itself to disrupt and possibly control a rapidly expanding market by ending the triple monopoly and launching a national card payment system. The Central Bank of Nigeria attributes the success of the latest fintech push to lower operating expenses and optimum utilization of foreign currency.
According to the Bank’s Principal Governor, “Foreign exchange challenges continue to persist globally, it is important for me to say that we have come up with this card to ensure that all online card transactions will now, immediately, start moving forward in the Nigerian domestic system.”
He added, “NIBSS and CBN will work together to make sure that foreign exchange fees are charged for international transactions made with Visa and Mastercard cards as we have them now. This is because many of the cards we currently use charge in foreign currency. However, with the launch of the National Local Card, implementation will be All local transactions are in accordance with the National Domestic Card Scheme.”
This “homegrown” initiative has the distinction of being the first of its kind in Africa. However, it is following a similar path to several other leading countries including China, India, Brazil and Turkey. Due to its effectiveness, affordability and government support, Rupay card payment system is dominating the market in India. More than 600 million Rupay cards have been distributed as of this post.
The Managing Director and CEO of NIBSS, Premier Oiwoh, stated that the program was created to solve some of the unique problems in the industry and to provide specialized and cutting-edge services.
Nigerians will be able to use debit cards and similar products for less money if this initiative succeeds just like Rupay. However, reliability and interoperability issues will not be fully resolved when using cards.
Speaking about how this decision could hinder competition from international players, Emefiele noted that “The Nigerian market is vast and the existing participants have changed the ecosystem significantly over the past 12 years. However, there is still a lot of way to overcome it because millions of Nigerians still lack cards to complete transactions.” The Summit Governor added: “I am convinced that the local national card scheme will make this a reality in the coming months. We can no longer neglect the vast majority of Nigerians.”
NIBSS subsidiary AfriGOpay Financial Services Limited (AFSL) will be responsible for implementing and supervising the accreditation of the National Domestic Card Programme. The program aims to provide more choices for domestic consumers, drive cashless economy policies for Africa’s largest economy and save foreign transaction fees for the country. Recall in 2021 the Central Bank of Nigeria launched a different initiative with e-Naira