The Nigerian banking regulator has adopted the country’s .ng domain name for the website of eNaira, the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), to be unveiled today by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, promoters of the eNaira, had earlier announced a .com website address for the internet real estate that will promote the CBDC to the Nigerian and broader global internet community.
In a fresh twist by the banking regulator, Osita Nwanisobi, Corporate Communications Director at CBN says in a notice at the weekend announcing today’s scheduled unveiling of the eNaira by President Buhari, that internet users can “explore the benefits of our eNaira” by visiting the scheme’s website on www.enaira.gov.ng. Visitors who land on the .com domain that was initially announced for the eNaira website are now being automatically redirected to the news .ng domain.
Meanwhile, the online unveiling of the eNaira website on the .com domain had sparked mixed reactions from industry stakeholders including domain name system (DNS) experts who questioned the CBN’s choice of what they cited as a ‘foreign domain’ in favour of the country’s official internet address.
One of such experts, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and the first administrative contact person for the .ng top-level Nigerian domain name, faults the choice of a .com address for eNaira.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Technology Times, the Nigerian internet pioneer says she appreciates “the thoughtfulness of the Nigerian Government for setting up the initiative” when noting the timeliness of the eNaira scheme.
eNaira: Whay Domain Names Matter
“I think that there must have been an oversight knowing that this government is very particular about local content. Somebody along the line must have missed that it hasn’t been brought to the attention of the government that it wasn’t appropriate for us to be on .com. Maybe the fullness of that has not been brought to their attention”, Mrs Odusote says. “It is good that we are going this way. It is not the right step to have a .com for our eNaira initiative and it is still reversible. The .ng is supposed to be at the forefront of this especially when it has to do with financials.”
According to her, “It is important that the appropriate offices are put into the picture of the issues that are there. It doesn’t go well with me at all, and it makes me even feel uncomfortable that all the years that have been put into establishing .ng in Nigeria, and all over the world that Nigerians businesses are ensuring that they have .ng would have been to a waste if all that we have succeeded in doing at that topmost level is to have a .com.”
For people who may think that the issue of domain name choice does not really matter, Mrs Odusote says that “I am very sorry, people that have that opinion, they don’t understand what we are talking about.
“Every domain has its domicile portion within the internet. So it means that administratively, everything that is happening on .com is handled in the United States of America. You may have the domain anywhere in the world.”
According to her, the .com address “is the easiest to even create, that means that it is open to abuse. But .ng is specific. You cannot be on .ng and we don’t have your coordinates. Your coordinates are very clear. For data security, for information management, that is moving data from one place to the other, .ng is practically here and it means that Nigeria is in control of that data. Putting our national infrastructure, because I see that as our national infrastructure, does not speak well of us. It also reduces our cyber integrity.”
Meanwhile, the CBN says that today’s launch of eNaira by President Buhari “is a culmination of several years of research work by the Central Bank of Nigeria in advancing the boundaries of payments system in order to make financial transactions easier and seamless for every strata of the society.”
Nwanisobi, CBN’s Corporate Communications Director says the launch follows a “series of engagements with relevant stakeholders including the banking community, fintech operators, merchants and indeed, a cross section of Nigerians.”
The Nigerian banking regulator’s designated digital currency, eNaira, “marks a major step forward in the evolution of money and the CBN is committed to ensuring that the eNaira, like the physical Naira, is accessible by everyone.”
According to the CBN spokesperson, “given that the eNaira is a journey, the unveiling marks the first step in that journey, which will continue with a series of further modifications, capabilities and enhancements to the platforms. The CBN will continue to work with relevant partners to ensure a seamless process that will benefit every user, particularly those in the rural areas and the unbanked population.
“Since the eNaira is a new product, and amongst the first CBDCs in the world, we have put a structure to promptly address any issue that might arise from the pilot implementation of the eNaira. Accordingly, following Monday’s formal launch by the President, the Bank will further engage various stakeholders as we enter a new age consistent with global financial advancement.”