The Central Bank of Nigeria, has launched a national domestic card scheme, AfriGo. The scheme was initially announced at a Bankers’ Committee press briefing in October 2022.
This move according to the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, will drive financial inclusion and concentrate on card financial data in Nigeria. Not only that, it follows the bank’s decision last year to phase out old higher denomination bank notes.
“The national domestic card avails is the sovereignty of our data. Secondly, it comes at lower costs,” Emefiele said.
With the annual value of card transactions in the Nigeria cards and payments market capped at $18.2 billion in 2021, Nigeria remains a huge market for players in the card payments market. This is largely dominated by global players like Mastercard and Visa, with Verve by Interswitch following behind.
These global companies provide central payment networks which they link to debit and credit cards to enable and facilitate cash transactions with the card. The cards can then be issued to customers by banks, financial institutions, or even shopping malls.
During the virtual launch, Emefiele said of the AfriGo card scheme that although penetration of card payments in Nigeria had grown over the years, many citizens remain excluded.
Why AfriGo Card Scheme
The challenges that have limited the inclusion of Nigerians include the high cost of card services as a result of;
1. Foreign exchange requirements of international card schemes and,
2. The existing card products do not address local peculiarities of the Nigerian market.
AfriGo which is owned by CBN and Nigerian banks, will be joining China, Russia, Indian and Turkey in launching a domestic card scheme.
“Rather, it (AFRIGO) is aimed at providing more options for domestic consumers whilst also promoting the delivery of services in a more innovative, cost effective and competitive manner,” Emefiele said.
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