Clickatell to Boost eNaira Acceptance With *997# Short Code

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Clickatell makes it possible for brands and consumers to engage and transact via mobile chat and digital channels with industry-leading communications commerce platforms and solutions.

By Adedapo Adesanya

One of Nigeria’s financial technology companies, Clickatell, has collaborated with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to launch a USSD channel for eNaira, the country’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), as part of the country’s drive to make basic banking accessible to all Nigerians, ultimately driving financial inclusion.

The eNaira was launched in October 2021 when President Muhammadu Buhari said Africa’s first central bank-backed digital currency would help boost remittances, foster cross-border trade, and help his government make welfare payments more easily.

With financial inclusion at the heart of the eNaira goals, President Buhari also said that he believed the CBDC would increase the gross domestic product (GDP) in the country by $29 billion over the next 10 years.

Speaking on this, Ms Uzo Nwani, Clickatell Commercial Director, West Africa, said, “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.”

CBN is working with partners who are committed to taking advantage of this new technology for continuous innovation toward delivering exciting new features

The new USSD channel allows Nigerians to use the *997# short code to create their eNaira wallet.

Through this short code, users can easily check balances and transfer funds. They will also be able to buy airtime or data for themselves or friends and family. Safeguarding their wallets is also easy on the channel and users can check and update their information, change and reset their pins, or even block 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 committed to taking advantage of this new technology for continuous innovation towards delivering exciting new features,” the CBN Deputy Governor on Economic Policy, Mr Kingsley Obiora, said.

Due to the rapid growth of smartphones, most Nigerians are currently using feature phones, making an excellent case for the USSD offering. The CBN is counting on the new channel making rapid inroads towards getting most of the 30 per cent of unbanked Nigerians into the formal banking system.

As part of its efforts, the CBN is working hard to boost awareness and education around the new digital currency. It has offered an incentive of N200 airtime for the first 100,000 users to onboard using the eNaira USSD feature.

Looking ahead, Ms Nwani says the Clickatell solution ideally positions the system for new and collaborative additions to help boost the eNaira services.

“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 attract more customers.”

“There is no doubt that the CBN has set the benchmark for financial inclusion in Africa, and we look forward to being part of that journey,” she added.

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