The move is part of the central bank’s moves to reduce the flow of cash within the borders of Africa’s largest economy.

Nigeria’s central bank has launched a domestic card scheme to compete with foreign cards such as Mastercard and Visa, hoping to enhance its drive to make Africa’s largest economy cashless and save the country transaction fees. foreigners.

Thursday’s announcement by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele follows the launch of Africa’s first digital currency, the e-naira, in October 2021.

Emefiele said at a virtual launch of the AfriGo card scheme that although the penetration of card payments in Nigeria has grown over the years, many citizens are still left out.

“Challenges that have limited the inclusion of Nigerians include the high cost of card services as a result of the currency requirements of international card schemes and the fact that existing card products do not address the local peculiarities of the market. Nigerian,” he said.

Emefiele said Nigeria was joining China, Russia, India and Turkey in launching a national card scheme. AfriGo is owned by CBN and Nigerian banks.

The operations of international card service providers such as Mastercard and Visa will not end, he said, as AfriGo is aimed at providing more choice for domestic consumers in a “profitable and competitive manner.”

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has more than 200 million people and most still use cash because they live in rural areas where there are no banks.

To promote “financial inclusion” in remote areas, the central bank announced last week the launch of a cash exchange program featuring a redesigned version of the local currency, the naira.