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 National Card Scheme which will come into effect on January 16, 2023.

Although the bank has yet to disclose the acquisition cost and operating charges, Nigerians will receive a new electronic card for local transactions starting Monday 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 that operate in Nigeria.

The CBN, along with Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc and the Bankers Committee, made the announcement of the new card system at a press conference in October last year.

At the conference, NIBSS Managing Director Premier Oiwoh explained that the national card scheme would reduce card operating costs in the country for both issuers and users.

“The card would be optimized for local content for the Nigerian market only and would support micro-payments and credit, e-government, identity management, transportation, healthcare, and agriculture with respect to payment,” Owoh added.

The Director of CBN’s Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, also corroborated Oiwoh’s position, explaining that Nigeria’s payments ecosystem has grown and can drive a national card scheme.

“Given the strength and breadth of its banking sector and the rapid growth and transformation of its payment system over the last decade, Nigeria is ideally positioned to successfully launch a national card scheme,” he said.

The new card, which is expected to unify payments across the banking landscape, comes as Nigerians are battling commercial banks over alleged dubious and misleading charges on their cards.

The card will be delivered through Nigeria’s central switch, NIBSS, together with the Bankers Committee and other stakeholders from the financial ecosystem.

Today’s rollout will add Nigeria to the growing list of countries including India, Turkey, China and Brazil that have launched similar cards for home use.

The CBN said: “The national card scheme will be a major game changer for financial inclusion in Nigeria.

“The plan is to offer Africa’s first central bank-driven national card scheme that combines a fully national infrastructure with international interoperability. Our plans will allow us to become the largest card system in Africa and among the largest in the world.”

However, it could not yet be determined whether Nigerians could use it for international transactions, as its application is restricted to local coasts for now.