The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has launched a national domestic payments card program called AfriGo, meant to help the country gain a competitive edge in a market dominated by Visa and Mastercard.
The AfriGo card has the potential to disrupt and perhaps control a rapidly expanding market in a move that CBN believes will drive financial inclusion.
Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria said, “At this time when foreign exchange issues are still present globally, it is crucial for me to say that we have developed this card to ensure that all online card transactions will now, with immediate effect, start to go on the Nigerian national domestic system.”
The CBN, in collaboration with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) hopes that this will be the beginning of a new dawn in domestic and international transactions.
NIBSS and CBN will work together to make sure that foreign exchange fees are only added to international transactions made with Visa and Mastercard, as they are now.
According to the CBN, “all domestic transactions will be done through the national domestic card scheme once the national domestic card is in place.”
This is the first project of its kind in Africa and could set the template for more countries to follow suit. China, India, Brazil, and Turkey are among the countries that have homegrown card systems. India’s Rupay, which is backed by the government is the most popular in the country because it works seamlessly and doesn’t cost much. More than 600 million Rupay cards have been given out so far.
Nigeria hopes to replicate such success stories and this could give international companies stiff competition.
“The national domestic card program will undoubtedly make this a reality in the coming months,” Emefiele said.