1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Globalization and digitalization have transformed corporate operations and market competition in the twenty-first century. Information and communication technology (ICT) is the driving force behind this transformation (Onyeaghala & Anele, 2017). Thus, technological developments and improvements have caused significant and ongoing changes in the retail sector, since ICT has become indispensable for the operations of retail outlets and has had a big impact on their performance in emerging and established countries (Sajuyigbe & Alabi, 2015).
The transition from a physical payment system to a digital payment system, which led to the cashless policy, is one of the significant developments facilitated by technological innovation. Consequently, there has been the birth and rapid spread of several digital currencies. According to Charles (2018), digital currency is a digital representation of either virtual currency (non-fiat) or e-money (fiat) and is thus often used synonymously with virtual currency. Additionally, digital currency refers to any cash, money, or money-like item that is primarily handled, stored, or exchanged through digital networks, most notably the internet (digital money, electronic money, or electronic currency). Digital currencies contain properties equivalent to those of conventional currencies, but they lack a physical form, unlike currencies with printed notes or minted coins (Franco 2015). This absence of physical form enables rapid online transactions and eliminates the expense of transmitting bills and coins (Franco 2015).
The rise of digital currencies has created new options that have the ability to help Nigeria’s economic growth and position the country as a leader in the future development of this technology’s industry (SERC 2015). Nigeria is the first country in Africa to develop a central bank digital currency (CBDC), nicknamed eNaira. This follows the adoption of digital currency distribution by a number of countries as a result of its major effect.
Nigeria’s digital currency, eNaira, is a digital legal money that has the same value as the real Naira and is required for all legal transactions inside the country. E-Naira would function as a wallet against which customers could hold existing funds in their bank accounts, while corporations could conduct transactions through the platform (SearchNGR, 2021).
Concerns have been raised about the impact of this new development on the implementation, acceptance, and usability of the eNaira platform in rural areas, as the majority of retailers in rural communities are poorly educated, have limited internet exposure, and have a negative attitude toward internet-based transactions. In light of this, Ayomide (2021) said that the majority of rural merchants that operate in kiosks, stores, and small shops lack enough knowledge and awareness of the current shift. This is because the bulk of merchants are illiterate, school dropouts, etc., with a low degree of exposure; thus, they are unfamiliar with digital operations and services. In light of this, the purpose of this research is to analyze the culture and attitudes of merchants about the usage of eNaira.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The influence of technological improvements on the operations of retail businesses has been especially pronounced. Therefore, in order to remain competitive in the digital retail market, merchants must be cognizant of technology advancements and handle related challenges and opportunities (Sorescu, 2011).
The growth of digital payment systems with the usage of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, litecoin, ethereum, binance, polkadot, etc. has been continuous. This has had an effect on the payment methods accepted by shops worldwide. The eNaira platform was developed recently in Africa to assist consumers and companies in reducing or mitigating some of the issues inherent to the settlement and payment process (Nwoke, 2021). Concerns have been expressed, however, about how the eNaira digital system would be accepted, accessible, and used by shops in Nigeria, especially those in rural areas. In light of this, the researcher emphasized that the majority of merchants that operate in open-air markets, kiosks, street shops, roadside businesses, etc. are not highly exposed, since illiteracy is prevalent among them. As a consequence, their Internet-related knowledge and attitude are inadequate. Many of them are used to exchanging items for cash in person and see the electronic payment system as unauthentic and unreliable. They have yet to understand the advantages of the eNaira and have a negative attitude toward digital technology. Consequently, the continuing looks to be a hurdle to the adoption of the eNaira platform among Nigerian retail firms.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE PROBLEM
The purpose of this research is to investigate the merchants’ culture and attitudes about the adoption of eNaira. Specifically, the research aims to:
To investigate if the eNaira will significantly impact the day-to-day operations of shops.
Determine the degree to which merchants are used to doing commercial transactions with actual currency.
Determine if the degree of literacy of merchants will have a major impact on the adoption of eNaira for commercial transactions.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
In the course of this research, the following assertion will be verified using the Chi-square statistical technique at a significance level of 0.05.
The eNaira platform will not significantly impact merchants’ day-to-day business operations.
Low level of merchants’ familiarity with the usage of physical currency in conducting commercial transactions.
H03: The degree of literacy of merchants will not substantially impact the adoption of eNaira for conducting commercial transactions.
Similar to earlier studies of similar sort, this study would be very beneficial to shops in Nigeria, the Centre Bank of Nigeria, researchers, and students.
This research will first educate retail shop owners about the evolution of the eNaira, since the majority of merchants in Nigeria, especially those in rural regions, do not comprehend this kind of digital progress. This might be related to their degree of education and exposure to contemporary life. The research will inform them of the benefits of using eNaira and the need of using eNaira for conducting their commercial activities.
The conclusion of this research will provide CBN with a set of comments identifying potential obstacles that might impede the goal of constructing the eNaira platform, and hence the necessity to make the appropriate arrangements to guarantee the platform’s smooth operation.
The study will act as a resource for scholars and students doing research on a relevant subject.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research explores merchants’ culture and attitudes about the adoption of eNaira from a broad perspective. To accomplish this, the study will determine whether the eNaira will have a significant impact on the day-to-day business operations of retailers, the extent to which retailers are accustomed to using physical cash in conducting business transactions, and whether the literacy level of retailers will have a significant impact on the use of eNaira in conducting business transactions. Consequently, respondents for this research will be collected from a selection of Ijabo Ode merchants.
1.7. LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
During the process of conducting this study, the researcher encountered many limitations, including time limits, money constraints, language obstacles, and respondent attitudes.
There was also the aspect of researcher prejudice. In this instance, the researcher’s prejudices may have been reflected in the manner in which data was collected, the kind of persons questioned or sampled, and the subsequent interpretation of data acquired. All of these factors have the ability to alter the results and conclusions.
Moreover, this research’s conclusions are restricted to the sample population in the study region, thus they may not be applicable to other schools, local governments, states, or nations throughout the globe.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Retailer: An person or organization that is at the end of the distribution system and, as such, sells in small amounts to final customers.
This relates to the education level of merchants.
Digital Currency: This phrase refers to any kind of payment accepted for online transactions.
eNaira is a digital currency created to replace the Nigerian currency Naira.