Nigeria:Banks Record 21 Million BVN Enrollment

With only five days to the October 31, 2015 deadline for obtaining the bank verification numbers (BVNs), a total of 21 million customers in the country have so far obtained their unique biometric numbers. Also, about 12,000 bank customers in the diaspora have so far taken advantage of the BVN registration centres created outside the country by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the bankers' committee, disclosed this at the weekend.

As expected, a lot of bank customers would intensify efforts to get registered on the BVN this week so as not to have their accounts suspended. This would further increase the number of registered customers.

There are about 45 million bank customers in the country, with some bank customers having more than one account(s).

The BVN is an initiative aimed at protecting bank customers and further strengthening the Nigerian banking system. It is an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in conjunction with the Bankers’ Committee meant to address the safety of customers’ funds, avoids losses through compromise of personal identification numbers and other criminal activities in the industry.

BVN should also encourage financial inclusion as those who have typically stayed away from mainstream banking due to low literacy levels will be able to open and access their bank accounts using their biometric information rather than traditional identification methods.

The BVN has been described as a ‘silver-bullet solution’ to many of the challenges in the banking industry. It is a unique identifier for each bank customer across the financial industry, making it possible to build and track customer financial history and activity.

"As at now (Friday), we have 21 million people registered,  we have over 12,000 enrolled in the diaspora and we are beginning to see the queues building up and people are rushing to beat the deadline. So, we are hopeful that at least 80 per cent of the banking industry hopefully would have complied by the end of October," the NIBSS boss explained in an interview in Lagos.

According to Shonubi, presently there are about 12 centres that had been opened all around the world for bank customers residing outside, adding that in the next few days, about six centers would be opened in places like Australia, Malaysia, and others.

He warned that: "Those that do not register before the deadline would not be allowed to operate their accounts and once they do the enrolment and have the BVN, the account would be again activated. We believe that 80 per cent would enrol before the deadline. The central bank and bankers’ committee have said there is no possibility of extension."

According to him, one of the benefits of the BVN is that once it is in place, all financial transactions would be tracked. With that, he said the regulator and banks would be able to know the account and other related account and we begin to track fraudsters.

"We have an anti-fraud system that had been put in place by the industry," he said.
The Deputy Director, Consumer Protection Department at the CBN, Mrs. Khadija Kasim, last week ruled out any extension of the October 31 deadline for customers to register for their BVN. She also urged those yet to be captured to do so before the deadline expires.

“The initial deadline was June 30th before we extended it to end of October. By now we expect all Nigerians to go before the expiration date and get their bank verification number. Please Nigerians, come out and ensure that within the few days left for the registration, you are registered for the exercise,” she appealed.