Clickatell, a pioneer in CPaaS and a market leader in chat commerce, has teamed up with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide all Nigerians quick, easy, and affordable eNaira banking services via the USSD channel, which eliminates the need for data and is accessible on all devices.
In an effort to make basic banking available to all Nigerians and so promote financial inclusion, Clickatell has partnered with the CBN to establish a USSD channel for its eNaira Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
African’s first central bank-backed digital currency, the eNaira, was introduced in October 2021 after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari claimed it would facilitate cross-border trade, increase remittances, and make it easier for his government to disburse welfare benefits.
President Buhari also stated that he thought the CBDC will boost the nation’s GDP by $29 billion over the following ten years, with financial inclusion at the core of the eNaira ambitions.
Introducing the USSD short code allows non-banked Nigerians, many of whom do not have smartphones, to access cashless banking services and is a big win for the stated goals of delivering meaningful financial inclusion. Clickatell’s role in making this a reality has been one of the most important achievements of our engagements in Nigeria.
Nigerians can build their eNaira wallet utilizing the new USSD channel and the short number *997#.
Once this is completed, customers may quickly check their balances, transfer money, and securely purchase airtime or data for themselves or their loved ones.
On the channel, users can easily protect their wallets by checking and updating their information, changing and resetting their pin, or even blocking the wallet if necessary.
“The USSD channel is a vital part of our journey towards realizing our financial inclusion vision. We see the eNaira as a leap forward in the evolution of money. Thus, CBN is working with partners who are committed to taking advantage of this new technology for continuous innovation towards delivering exciting new features,” comments the CBN Deputy Governor Economic Policy, Dr. Kingsley Obiora.
99% of GSM handsets are capable of using the USSD protocol, also known as unstructured supplementary service data.
It continues to be especially useful in underdeveloped areas where it may be used to deliver services at considerably reduced costs without requiring access to the user’s SIM card.
Despite the explosive expansion of smartphones, most Nigerians still use feature phones, which is a strong argument in favor of the USSD offering. The CBN is relying on the new route to make quick strides toward bringing the majority of Nigeria’s 30% unbanked population into the established banking system.
The CBN has provided an incentive of 200 eNGN airtime for the first 100,000 users to sign up using the eNaira USSD feature as part of its efforts to increase awareness and education about the new digital currency.
Looking forward, Nwani asserts that the Clickatell solution perfectly places the system for future enhancements that will enhance the eNaira offerings.
“Our Chat Flow product provides a robust platform to support rapid innovation. Digital currencies provide measurable customer benefits including lower costs and a simple user experience and adding new innovative features over time will definitely attract more customers. There is no doubt that the CBN has set the benchmark when it comes to financial inclusion in Africa, and we look forward to being part of that journey,” Nwani says.