The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) have introduced a national card scheme called AfriGo. The national card was first mentioned by the CBN at a Bankers’ Committee press briefing in October 2022.
At the launch, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele announced that the card would work like other international payment cards, with the goal of increasing financial inclusion in Nigeria and reducing reliance on foreign cards. With the introduction of the AfriGo card, Nigeria has joined other countries like China, Russia, Turkey, and India also have their own local payment cards.
Emefiele states that the use of local cards will not prevent the usage of international cards, but instead, will provide more choices for Nigerians. He adds that at a time when foreign exchange challenges persist globally, it is important to introduce the AfriGo card to ensure that all online card transactions will now go through the Nigerian national domestic system.
NIBSS and CBN will work together to ensure that foreign exchange is charged only for international transactions made on Visa and Mastercard. Currently, many cards charge in foreign currency, but with the launch of the national domestic card, all domestic transactions will be carried out on the national domestic card. Emefiele also said that they will ban the payment of charges for domestic transactions from the Nigerian foreign exchange market at some point in the near future.
Emefiele stated that the AfriGo card has the potential to integrate the informal economy into the financial system, which will also reduce the expense of producing cards for Nigerian banks and the requirement for foreign currency to obtain foreign cards.
Deputy Governor of CBN and Chairman of NIBSS, Aisha Ahmad, also highlighted the benefits that Nigeria will gain from the AfriGo card. She stated that the implementation of the National Domestic Card Scheme has the potential to bring improved transaction security, better pricing opportunities, decreased demand for foreign currency, reduced pressure on the Naira, locally relevant partnerships and offerings, and the development of local skills in the card and payment space.
Ahmad added that the AfriGo card will boost financial inclusion, value retention, flexible and innovative scale, and be a source of national pride. According to global card ownership statistics, 32% of the Nigerian adult population owns Debit & Credit cards, ranking Nigeria 75th in the world in debit card to population ratio and 114th in the world in credit card to population ratio.
AfriGo card was developed by AfriGopay Financial Services Limited, an affiliate of NIBSS and licensed by the CBN. The company is responsible for deploying and managing the National Domestic Card Scheme for Nigeria.