The new currency - known as the eCFA - is designed to operate alongside the West African Franc (CFA), which is the currency of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), covering Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, and Togo.
The eCFA is being developed by the firm eCurrency and the Banque Regional de Marches (BRM). It will be equal in value to the physical money and will be accepted by all existing payment platforms, such as MPesa.
Its backers say the digital currency will help millions of people who do not have access to basic banking services.
The digital currency also uses high-security cryptographic protocols to ensure that it cannot be counterfeited or compromised, they said in a statement.
BRM CEO Alioune Camara said:
We are committed to bringing digital financial services and true financial inclusion to West Africa. An eCFA backed by our banking system and the central bank is the safest and most secure way to enable the digital economy. We can now facilitate full interoperability between all e-money payment systems. This is a great leap forward for Africa.”