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Nigerian CBDC Still Not Widely Used a Year After Launch

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Nigerian CBDC Still Not Widely Used a Year After Launch

On October 25, Nigeria commemorated the first anniversary of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s e-naira, even as more residents continue to snub the digital currency. In a move aimed at boosting the use of the CBDC, the central bank is offering a 5% discount to motorized rickshaw drivers and passengers that use the e-naira. Kingsley Obiora, a deputy governor at the CBN, suggested that the digital currency needs “a little push from the government” if it is to be widely embraced.

E-Naira Rollout at Phase 2

As Nigeria commemorated the e-naira’s first anniversary on October 25, critics have claimed that the average Nigerian has still not embraced Africa’s first central bank digital currency (CBDC). They point to the e-naira wallet’s relatively low number of downloads as well as the still-growing use of cryptocurrencies when remitting funds or making cross-border payments.

In August, Bitcoin.com News reported that between January and June this year, peer-to-peer bitcoin traded volumes on Paxful alone amounted to nearly $400 million. The figure is more than half the $760 million that was recorded in the whole of 2021. According to Paxful, Nigerians were resorting to cryptocurrencies and peer-to-peer trading platforms because they provide “an opportunity for financial inclusion.”

Yet, despite the apparent snub of the CBDC by Nigerians so far, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is still projecting an eightfold increase in the number of e-naira wallet downloads. As previously reported by Bitcoin.com News, the central bank hopes to achieve this via the use of various initiatives that include enabling the unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) functionality to the wallet app.

The CBN has also engaged payment service providers like fintech giant Flutterwave, which has since added the e-naira to its list of payment options for merchants. In one of its latest moves aimed at boosting the use of the CBDC, the central bank is offering a 5% discount to drivers and passengers of motorized rickshaws that pay with the e-naira.

According to a statement released by Bitt — the CBN’s technology partner — the onboarding of banked customers and merchants is consistent with phase two activities of the central bank’s staggered rollout of the CBDC. In the third stage, the CBN said it will seek to onboard the “Nigerian Trade and Exchange platform.” This phase will also include “sector-specific tokens for grants and subsidies” as well as “programmable payments for e-naira payment scenarios.”

CBN Optimism Not Shared by Everyone

Remarking on the occasion to mark the CBDC’s anniversary, Brian Popelka, the CEO of Bitt said:

This year has been full of firsts for Africa. Being the first provides the opportunity to become the first to find solutions and chart the course for others to follow. Today’s one-year milestone is an exceptional achievement for both the Central Bank of Nigeria and Bitt teams. We look forward to continued partnership on this CBDC deployment journey and to provide additional features to expand eNaira’s value to all Nigerians and everyone, everywhere.

However, Popelka and the CBN’s optimism is not shared by everyone. Adesoji Solanke, a director with the investment bank Renaissance Capital, is one critic. With Nigeria facing ongoing foreign exchange shortages, Solanke, just like his fellow Nigerians, hoped the e-naira would turn out to be a stable alternative to the depreciating naira.

In remarks published by Bloomberg, Solanke insisted the CBN’s digital currency “does not address any of these basic use cases, so no surprise at its low adoption rates so far.”

Meanwhile, Kingsley Obiora, a deputy governor at the CBN, is quoted in the report suggesting that “a little push from the government” is needed if the CBDC is to take off. Josh Lipsky, director of the Atlantic Council’s Geoeconomics Center, reportedly said both the central bank and government must be involved in efforts aimed at helping more Nigerians become acquainted with the CBDC.

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What are your thoughts on this story? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Terence Zimwara

Terence Zimwara is a Zimbabwe award-winning journalist, author and writer. He has written extensively about the economic troubles of some African countries as well as how digital currencies can provide Africans with an escape route.

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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Bitcoin (BTC) Price Slips as US Labor Market Figures Hotter Than Expected

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Bitcoin (BTC) Price Slips as US Labor Market Figures Hotter Than Expected

Bitcoin fell 2% to around $16,800 after the Nov. 2022 U.S. jobs report revealed a strong labor market, despite the Federal Reserve’s six consecutive interest rate hikes in 2022.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 263,000, beating the Dow Jones estimate of 200,000, while the unemployment rate matched expectations at 3.7%.

Jobs Report Signals Fed Hikes Are Likely to Persist

The gain in nonfarm payrolls came in slightly lower than the revised Oct. 2022 increase of 284,000, while average hourly earnings rose 0.6% compared to estimates of 0.3%.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the nonfarm payroll and average hourly earnings at 8:30 E.T. on the first Friday of every month as part of the Employment Situation report.

While rising employment rates and wages generally point to a healthy economy, wages that grow too fast, especially in the presence of record levels of inflation, encourage the Fed to continue raising interest rates to ensure that the economy doesn’t run red-hot. 

“To have 263,000 jobs added even after policy rates have been raised by some [375] basis points is no joke,” noted Seema Shah of Principal Asset Management. “The labor market is hot, hot, hot, heaping pressure on the Fed to continue raising policy rates.”

Raising policy or interest rates cools economic expansion, but if done too aggressively, it could significantly curtail employment and pitch the economy into a recession. Recession fears generally create selling pressure on risky assets like cryptos and equities, driving prices into bear territory.

Cryptos ceded gains accrued earlier this week around a lower-than-expected Personal Consumption Expenditure Price Index of 0.2% for Nov. 2022. 

At press time, XRP was down about 2.5%, while DOGE fell 3.78%. Solana also declined by 1.1%. Equities markets also tanked, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 0.9%, the S&P 500 1.2%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq slid 1.5%. 

Crypto price heatmap
Source: Coin360

Elsewhere, gold is outshining Bitcoin as an inflation hedge and trading back at its price at the beginning of the year, $1,800 per ounce. By comparison, Bitcoin has fallen 63% in the same period.

Jobs Report and Inflation Still Likely to Influence Crypto Prices

The higher-than-expected Nov. 2022 nonfarm payroll number is the lowest jobs gain since April 2021, coming after a revised increase of 284,000 new jobs in Oct. 2022.

Nonfarm payroll increases in 2022
Source: TradingEconomics

The most significant adjusted increases in the nonfarm payroll were noted in the Feb. 2022 and July 2022 jobs report. The Feb. 2022 report revealed that nonfarm payrolls increased by 714,000 in Jan. 2022, prompting the Fed to step in with a 25 basis-point hike in March. 

The following four reports pointed to a cooling down of the labor market, which then picked up again in June 2022, when the Fed introduced its first 75 basis point hike of 2022.

On Nov. 30, Fed chair Jerome Powell noted that less aggressive rate hikes might be a distinct possibility at the next Fed meeting, although most analysts do not expect a drastic fall off from the last four increases of 0.75%. 

They predict that the Fed will increase interest rates by 50 basis points at the next Federal Open Markets Committee meeting in mid-Dec. 2022, taking the federal funds rate above the 4% mark. 

The Fed meeting will likely spark a rally in both cryptos and stocks if analysts’ estimates prove accurate.

For Be[In] Crypto’s latest Bitcoin (BTC) analysis, click here.

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EU Parliament to ‘Vote on Adopting the Regulation on MiCA’ — Expert Says Industry Needs Legal Clarity

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EU Parliament to ‘Vote on Adopting the Regulation on MiCA’ — Expert Says Industry Needs Legal Clarity

In a recent statement, the European Parliament said its members would shortly “vote on adopting the regulation on markets in crypto-assets (MiCA).” According to the parliamentary body’s think tank, the envisaged regulations are expected to provide “legal certainty for crypto-assets not covered by existing EU legislation.” A crypto counselor, Paulius Vaitkevicius, said any regulation of crypto is likely to result in more capital and talent coming into the space.

‘Harmonized Rules’ for Crypto-Assets at EU Level

After months of discussions and negotiations which culminated in the June 30 preliminary agreement, the European Parliament (EP) is now set to “vote on adopting the regulation on markets in crypto-assets (MiCA).” The vote is set to take place during the legislative body’s plenary session. European leaders assert that the adoption of MiCA will lead to the creation of “harmonized rules for crypto-assets at [the] E.U. level.”

According to a Nov. 29 briefing by the parliament’s think tank, the harmonized crypto rules are expected to provide “legal certainty for crypto-assets not covered by existing EU legislation.” In the briefing, the EP also argues that the rules will not only enhance the protection of consumers and investors but will also “promote innovation and use of crypto-assets.”

Through MICA, European authorities also hope “to regulate [the] issuance and trading of crypto-assets as well as the management of the underlying assets.”

While European leaders like European Central Bank president Christine Largade are pushing for tougher regulation — MiCA II — some critics of the proposed legislation argue that the envisaged regulations in their current form may stifle innovation.

Legal Clarity Attracts Mature Players

Commenting on the European Union’s drive to regulate cryptocurrencies, Paulius Vaitkevicius, founder and crypto counselor at the law firm VILP Solutions, said the prevailing “Wild West environment” is not helpful to all parties. He also told Bitcoin.com News that without guidelines or regulatory frameworks “and with a number of situations where industry players collapse, we might end up in a situation where we will have only a handful of investors left in the industry.”

EU Parliament to 'Vote on Adopting the Regulation on MiCA' — Expert Says Industry Needs Legal Clarity

Therefore, to stop this from happening the crypto industry needs legal clarity, which according to Vaitkevicius, “bring[s] in more mature players to the industry from both project and investor sides.” Explaining why he is in favor of regulating the industry, Vaitkevicius said:

From my personal experience, such players have been seeking regulations and clarity already for some time and waiting for the right moment to step in properly. With regulations, we will see these firm steps and as a result additional capital and talent coming to the industry space.

Meanwhile, some crypto opponents have said if appropriate regulatory frameworks were already in place, Sam Bankman-Fried’s shenanigans would have been exposed much earlier. However, when asked about the validity of this argument, Vaitkevicius said the opinion that on paper FTX itself was “one of the most regulated players in the industry” undermines this theory. He added:

“Regulation is a good step forward, but [this] needs to be followed by other elements to be functional in real-life situations and achieve the pursued goals.”

What are your thoughts on this story? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Terence Zimwara

Terence Zimwara is a Zimbabwe award-winning journalist, author and writer. He has written extensively about the economic troubles of some African countries as well as how digital currencies can provide Africans with an escape route.

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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Uzbekistan Approves Rules for Issuance and Circulation of Crypto Assets

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Uzbekistan Approves Rules for Issuance and Circulation of Crypto Assets

Uzbekistan Approves Rules for Issuance and Circulation of Crypto Assets

The authority responsible for crypto oversight in Uzbekistan has determined the order of issuing and circulating digital assets in the country. The main reason behind the move is to establish a mechanism that would allow local companies to attract capital through coins and tokens.

Uzbekistan Government Sets Out to Regulate Digital Asset Investments

The National Agency of Perspective Projects (NAPP), under the President of Uzbekistan, has released a new regulation on the procedures for the issue, registration, and release in circulation of crypto assets in the Central Asian Nation.

The document provides basic legal definitions for crypto assets and makes distinction between the different types. It introduces requirements for crypto issuers, depositaries and custodians and determines their obligations, including those concerning relations with customers.

The authority has also approved rules for the establishment and maintaining of an electronic register of crypto assets and adopted accounting standards for the rights associated with them and those of their holders.

Crypto depositories will be responsible for providing services for the issuance, registration, circulation, and storage of crypto assets. Issuers can use them or other electronic platforms, the NAPP said, pointing out that the nominal value of the coins must be expressed only in the national fiat, the Uzbekistani som.

The agency emphasized that the issuance of unsecured tokens is prohibited. Using words such as “state,” “state-secured,” “state-supported,” “Uzbekistan,” “Uzbek,” “national,” and “som” in the names of the cryptos is banned. The regulator also clarified:

The main purpose of the adoption of this document is to create a new mechanism for business entities to attract investments and develop their activities by issuing and registering the issue of secured tokens.

The NAPP further warned against any unauthorized activities related to the circulation of crypto assets in the country or the use of services by providers that have not obtained a license to offer them. The same applies to firms involved in the mining of cryptocurrency.

Uzbekistan has been taking steps towards the comprehensive regulation of its crypto sector with several decrees signed by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and resolutions by the National Agency of Perspective Projects. The country recently licensed two companies to provide exchange services.

Do you think Uzbekistanis will benefit from the new regulations adopted by the country’s crypto watchdog? Tell us in the comments section below.

Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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