AfriGo to Replace VISA and MasterCard in Nigeria

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has launched Nigerian National Domestic Card Scheme, AfriGo, barring the USD charges on domestic transactions

Afrigo to Replace VISA and MasterCard in Nigeria

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with the Nigeria Inter Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) launched the national card scheme AfriGo on Jan. 26, at a virtual launch ceremony.

The scheme is supposed to rival and eventually replace internationally-accepted foreign cards like Mastercard and Visa and reduce transaction fees. Except for those two household brands, there is a third major domestic card scheme in Nigeria called Verve. Verve International is the first and only EMV-certified pan-African, customer-centric payment scheme, brand-owned by Interswitch Group.

AfriGo would become the fourth payment alternative available. Although the new AfriGo card will not prevent the use of the existing international payment schemes, it will provide more affordable options for Nigerians.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, stated that all online card transactions will be conducted via the national card scheme from now on. Besides, the bank would stop paying dollars for charges on local transactions within Nigeria. All domestic transaction fees would be paid in national currency – naira. Transaction fees on international payments will be still paid in USD and other foreign currencies.

The move will help solve the challenges of financial inclusion in the country, lower the cost of using bank cards, reduce shadow banking, and diminish the country’s dependence on foreign payment systems. AfriGo is also expected to strengthen the usage of electronic platforms in Nigeria.

"The challenges that have limited the inclusion of Nigerians include the high cost of card services as a result of foreign exchange requirements of international card schemes and the fact that existing card products do not address local peculiarities of the Nigerian market."
Godwin Emefiele, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor

The Central Bank has not yet set up a deadline for discontinuing the dollar payments on existing card schemes in the country for domestic transactions. Moreover, Nigerians can’t get the AfriGo card for the next few weeks, at least, as banks are not yet ready to start routing payments through the card scheme.

Emefiele also reassured the customers that they can keep using the existing bank cards, issued by foreign payment providers like Visa and Mastercard. The only change is that “we will no longer pay dollars for the charges on those cards,” he explained.

The new bank card, AfriGo, is the first of its kind in Africa and joins the likes of RuPay, UnionPay, Elo card scheme, and JCB card schemes launched by national governments across the globe.

Nina Bobro

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Nina is passionate about financial technologies and environmental issues, reporting on the industry news and the most exciting projects that build their offerings around the intersection of fintech and sustainability.