Reflecting on The Naira Redesign: Was It Worth Anything?

By Victor Itodo Abuh

THE CENTRAL Bank of Nigeria (CBN) unveiled new designs for the N200, N500, and N1000 notes towards the last few months of Year 2023.

The principal objectives, as the bank then told the nations, were to enhance security, lessen counterfeiting, modernize the money, and highlight Nigeria’s rich cultural legacy.

Few months after, it’s time to ask, was it worth it?

The purpose of the new notes was to make counterfeiting more difficult.

We were told the currencies come with features like security threads and watermarks.

But even with these protections, there are still issues with counterfeit notes as the counterfeiters have quickly adjusted.

There are already lots of phony new notes in circulation which clearly demonstrates that the redesign did not result in any notable decrease in counterfeiting.

The CBN aimed to bring the naira up to date. The redesigned notes are meant to be more robust and have a more modern appearance. They also provide tools to aid those who are blind or visually handicapped.

However, the rollout has encountered numerous issues. The new notes were initially not recognized by ATMs or point-of-sale systems. Long lines and annoyance resulted from this. There is misunderstanding since the colors of the new and old notes are similar.

Thus, the modernization process has not gone as smoothly as anticipated.

The notes were meant to be more secure with the addition of additional security measures including holograms and color-changing inks. But a lot of individuals are unaware of these characteristics.

These security measures are not as successful as they may be in the absence of appropriate public education. Fake notes are difficult for individuals to identify if they don’t know how to look for these characteristics. The efficacy of the security enhancements is diminished by this ignorance.

The new designs include elements of Nigeria’s cultural heritage. This was meant to make people feel more connected to their currency. However, this goal has not had a big impact. Many Nigerians see the redesign as unnecessary, especially when the country faces other economic problems. The cultural aspect has been overshadowed by practical issues and confusion.

Public trust in the new notes is mixed. Many people are skeptical and feel the redesign was a waste of money. The confusion and ongoing counterfeiting problems have not helped. The CBN’s efforts to educate the public about the new notes have been insufficient. This has led to mistrust and a lack of confidence in the new currency.

The economy has also been affected by the remodeling. Small companies that depend on cash transactions have been severely impacted. Fearing that the new notes might be fraudulent, many company owners are hesitant to accept them.

This impacts day-to-day business operations and slows down transactions. The economy has been more negatively impacted by the misunderstanding and technical issues than positively.

Although the CBN made a risky decision with the naira redesign, its effectiveness remains debatable. The objectives of updating the money, fostering cultural heritage, and lowering counterfeiting have not all been fully met.

The public is still doubtful, the launch was troublesome, and counterfeiting is still an issue.

The CBN must resolve these problems in order for the redesign to be genuinely worthwhile.

It is imperative to implement regular updates to security features, enhance public education, and make technological enhancements. The new naira notes won’t be able to accomplish their intended goals until then.

Victor Itodo Abuh, a young columnist writes in from Abuja,

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