It is largely the reason why most people wake up in the morning. It fuels individual lifestyle and taste. It provides all of man’s basic and even complex needs and wants. It has been sung about in so many old and modern songs that it’s now common to hear. It is in fact, the legal tender for the exchange of goods and services. In more simple terms, it is called money.
The word ‘money’ is believed to have originated from the goddess Juno Moneta, the Roman goddess of childbirth. The Lydians were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coins while the Chinese are believed to have been the first people to use paper money or banknotes.
Sweden’s first bank, Stockholms Banco is known to be the first bank to issue real banknotes in Europe in 1661, and they were issued as deposit certificates. Since then, every country in the world has adopted this method for the exchange of goods and services.
In Nigeria, before the colonial era, various cultures used a variety of items as means of exchange. These included cowries, manilas, beads, bottles, and salt amongst others. The first major currency issue was undertaken after the colonial ordinance of 1880 which introduced the Shillings and Pence as the legal tender currency in British West Africa and were distributed by the Bank for British West Africa till 1912.
The first set of banknotes and coins were issued in 1912 by the West African Currency Board (WACB) up until 1959, with the one-pound note being the highest banknote denomination and the one shilling coin the highest coin denomination. But it wasn’t until the 1st of July, 1959 that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued Nigerian currency banknotes and three years later on the 1st of July, 1962 that the currency was changed to reflect the country’s republican status. The notes now had inscribed at the top “FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA” instead of the previous inscription “FEDERATION OF NIGERIA”.
In January, 1973, the name of the Nigerian currency was changed from pounds to naira (which was the major unit) and kobo (which was the minor unit).
Like many average individuals, most Nigerians go through the routines of their day to day lives without wondering how money is made or distributed. In Nigeria, the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Limited Plc is the parastatal charged with the printing and minting of Nigerian banknotes. It was founded in 1963 and the first factory was built at Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos. It is largely owned by the government of Nigeria in partnership with De La Rue a company in England that manufactures paper and security printed products including banknotes, passports and tax stamps.
While the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company is the sole producer of Nigerian currencies, the Central Bank of Nigeria is the sole issuer of legal tender money throughout the federation. It controls the volume of money supply in the economy in order to ensure the monetary and price stability.
But like every story of evolution, there comes a time when a far more efficient and superior system takes over. The world is currently undergoing a drastic change in the way goods and services are exchanged and paid for. Currently leading in this trail is Sweden. The first nation to adopt banknotes in Europe in 1661 is going to introduce its own digital currency in 2021 and is poised to becoming the first world’s cashless society by 2023. Currently, more than 80 percent of all retail transactions have been conducted electronically and it is very difficult already today to find an establishment where they accept cash.
This method of exchange of goods and services seems to be the future of money and it promises a whole lot of advantages. It is only left to the mind to ponder how long it’ll take the Nigerian government and the CBN to shift their focus to these more profound and total electronic means of exchange of goods and services. Your guess is as good as mine.