Before the colonial era, there were different means of exchange amongst the people. These included cowries, manillas, beads, bottles, and salt amongst others.
Shillings and Pence was the first major currency issued in Nigeria undertaken a sequel to the colonial ordinance of 1880 legal tender currency in British West Africa. The currency was distributed by a private bank, the Bank for British West Africa till 1912.
From 1912 to 1959, the West African Currency Board (WACB) issued the first set of banknotes and coins to Ghana, Sierra Leone Gambia, and Nigeria.
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on 1st July 1959 issued Nigerian currency banknotes, while the WACB-issued banknotes and coins were withdrawn.
However, from 1st July 1962, the currency was changed to reflect the country’s republican status. The banknotes which bore the inscription, ’FEDERATION OF NIGERIA‘, was changed to, ‘FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA’, inscribed at the top.
That currency didn’t last long as it was again changed in 1968 following the misuse of the currency banknotes during the civil war.
In January 1973, the name of the Nigerian currency was changed. The major unit of currency which used to be £1 ceased to exist and the one naira which was equivalent to ten shillings became the major unit was adopted.
On 11th February 1977, a new banknote with the value of twenty naira (₦20) was introduced.
On 2nd July 1979, new currency banknotes of three denominations, namely ₦1, ₦5, and ₦10 were introduced.
Due to the expansion in economic activities and to facilitate an efficient payments system, the ₦100, ₦200, ₦500 and ₦1000 banknotes were introduced in December 1999, November 2000, April 2001 and October 2005 respectively.
On 28th February 2007, ₦20 was issued for the first time in polymer, while the ₦50, ₦10 and ₦5 notes; as well as ₦1 and 50K coins were redesigned, and the ₦2 coin was introduced.
On 30th September 2009, the redesigned ₦50, ₦10 and ₦5 banknotes were converted to polymer following the successful performance of the ₦20 (polymer) banknote.
To mark Nigeria’s Independence and 100 years of its existence as a nation, the CBN issued the ₦50 Commemorative polymer banknote on 29th September 2010; and the N100 Commemorative banknote on 19th December 2014 respectively.