October 20, 2022
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in line with its mandate to promote stability, inclusion and growth in the financial and payment system, is pleased to announce the introduction of a National Domestic Card Scheme effective January 16, 2023.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest and most vibrant economy and the pace of digitisation and innovation, alongside the expansion of mobile penetration and the proactive policy initiatives of the CBN have driven the accelerated adoption of digital financial services. Considering the strength and breadth of its banking sector and the rapid growth and transformation of its payments system over the last decade, Nigeria is ideally positioned to successfully launch a national card scheme.
Building on this platform to accelerate financial inclusion requires infrastructure that can deliver lower cost payments services that are more accessible and affordable for Nigerians. Domesticating our card scheme also enhances data sovereignty, enabling the development of locally relevant products and services and reduces demands on foreign exchange. The scheme can also be leveraged as a platform for the seamless dissemination of government-to-person payments and other social impact initiatives, enhancing financial access and supporting the growth of a robust and inclusive digital economy.
The national domestic card scheme shall be delivered through the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) Plc, Nigeria’s central switch, in conjunction with the Bankers Committee and other financial ecosystem stakeholders. It will foster innovation within the Nigerian domestic market, while enabling African and international interoperability, allowing banks and other institutions to offer a variety of solutions including debit, credit, virtual, loyalty and tokenized cards amongst others.
Nigeria joins a growing list of countries – India, Turkey, China, and Brazil as leading examples – who have launched domestic card schemes and harnessed the transformative benefits for their payments and financial systems, particularly for the underbanked. The CBN recognizes the significant benefits from delivering Africa’s first central bank-driven, domestic card scheme, which when delivered at scale has the potential to become the largest in Africa, and one of the largest in the world.