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Experts urge CBN to leverage technology to strengthen naira



Naira stable at $/N436.50 in I&E forex window

Some financial experts have advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to leverage technologies and innovations by the BRICS countries to strengthen the naira.

The experts gave the advice at the maiden edition of the Annual Banking and Technology Forum, organised by the Centre for Financial Studies of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) on Thursday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the hybrid meeting had, “Leveraging on Technology to Gain a Competitive Edge” as its theme.

Mr Adjiedj Bakas, an economist, specifically urged the CBN to base the naira on gold to allow it to compete with the US dollar in value.

According to him, if the CBN wants the naira to be fairly strong and stable, it should fund it with gold, oil and gas and other commodities.

“The BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – these five powerful nations, strong, big economies, are coming with a lot of initiatives, which might be beneficial to Nigeria.

“They are coming up with a new global reserve currency based on gold, oil and gas and other commodities, and that is going to compete with the US dollar,” said Bakas.

He said the BRICS had also developed an alternative to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) payment system, also in use in Holland and Nigeria.

“So, they come up with an alternative to SWIFT, a competent alternative to the dollar.

“And this new global reserve currency is founded on gold and commodities.

“So, my advice would be for the Nigerian Central Bank to base the naira upon gold; you have to buy lots of gold, and we have tonnes of gold.

“But also have to base it on all the oil and gas reserves of Nigeria, and then the naira will be worth much more,” Bakas said.

The expert also urged the banks to utilise both SWIFT and the new payment platform introduced by the BRICS, which is based on Alipay and WeChat.
“It is connected with facial recognition, artificial intelligence and security; you can follow the money and the traces everywhere,” he said.

He urged banks to offer young people a good future by moving along with these technological trends that have boosted the world’s Gross Domestic Product.

“Step in, dive into this technological revolution because technology is going to change blue-collar workers and devices are going to take over a lot of our financial administration.

“So, as a bank, you should be fast, provide fast services, especially to the millennials; and also leverage the digital naira because they all love the Central Bank’s digital currency,” he said.

The Director, Information Technology Department, CBN, Mrs Rakiya Mohammed, said the apex bank had been proactive by creating enabling environments for the banking industry to thrive.

She said the monetary authority came up with guidelines, frameworks, and innovative products to stimulate creativity in the banking sector without stifling the healthy competition among participants in the industry.

“If we have learnt anything in the CBN, it is the fact that technology will not wait for regulation, so we decided to be as agile as possible.

“We have tried to be proactive by creating an enabling environment via guidelines, frameworks, and innovative products to stimulate creativity in the banking sector without stifling the healthy competition among participants in the industry.

“In 2021, when the CBN announced its intention to roll out the first central bank digital currency in Africa and one of the first in the world, some people were sceptical as to our capacity to accomplish what other central banks were still reluctant to do.

“But we were convinced it was the way to go because the technology trends were clear to us.

It is either you embrace disruption, or you become obsolete.

“Despite the naysayers, the eNaira was successfully launched and has been gaining momentum in adoption both locally and internationally with close to a million wallet downloads across individuals and merchants,” she said.

She narrated how the monetary authority recently stumbled on a Twitter post where someone said the large population of unbanked Nigerian international students in the North Cyprus city of Lefkosa were using the eNaira to facilitate payments for goods and services.

Mohammed, who was represented by Mr Afolabi Adeleye, said, “These digital natives are not waiting.

“At the CBN we are beginning to have conversations around monetary policy in the metaverse, open banking, digital identities, among others.

“Leveraging the gains in the adoption of the eNaira, we recently concluded our first hackathon focused on expanding its use in driving financial inclusion and cross-border remittances.

“Embracing technology as a business enabler to drive competitive advantage is no longer optional.

It is a matter of corporate survival going into the future.”
Dr Ken Opara, of CIBN, represented by the first council Vice-President, Prof. Pius Olarenwaju, said, “This event provides another opportunity for us to offer value to our stakeholders as they try to navigate the financial technology and digital finance world.

“Indeed, this event could not have come at a better time as the ways in which we conduct banking has changed dramatically since technology entered the fray.

“Banks are now focused on elevated levels of personalisation and tailoring solutions to meet customers’ needs which have been enabled by the fast-tracking of digital transformation.” (NAN)

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