A Chat Commerce leader, Clickatell has sealed a deal with the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) to launch a USSD channel that will deliver cost-effective eNaira banking services to all Nigerians, which will ultimately speed up financial inclusion in the country.

According to Clickatell, the new USSD channel will allow Nigerians to use the *997# short code to create their eNaira wallet. Once this is done, they can easily check balances and transfer funds, as well as safely buy airtime or data for themselves or friends and family.

“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,” said Uzo Nwani, Clickatell Commercial Director, West Africa.

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data or USSD is a communications protocol that is supported by 99% of GSM handsets.

The eNaira was launched in October 2021 when the Nigerian 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.

Also commenting, CBN Deputy Governor Economic Policy, Dr. Kingsley Obiora, said the USSD channel is a vital part of Nigeria’s journey towards realizing its 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,” he said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria will be counting on the USSD channel to make rapid inroads toward getting most of the 30% of unbanked Nigerians into the formal banking system, where the majority of the citizens are leveraging feature phones.


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