No bank verification number, no transactions, as @cenbank sets deadline

by Tunji Andrews

In a circular by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the regulatory body has made it’s intention to accelerate the Bank Verification Number (BVN) Project in February 2014, which is being sponsored by the Bankers Committee.

The CBN in its efforts in the development of a safe, reliable and efficient payments system in Nigeria, the Bank in conjunction with the Bankers’ Committee, undertook some major initiatives to better protect bank deposits and customers; to which one of such was the launching of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) Project in February 2014.

BVN is a biometrics identification of customers in the financial industry launched by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in February 2014, which is aimed at revolutionising the payment system in the country. The introduction of BVN authentication is targeted at addressing cyber crime, ATM fraud and other kinds of financial frauds as well as to safeguard customers’ funds to avoid losses through compromise of Personal Identification Numbers (PIN).

The BVN is a number that enables one person to have a single identity within the financial system. Posing advantages for semi leterate people who have difficulties reading and writing to use their biometrics which cannot be replicated. This the CBN has said would tackle incidence of identity theft and enable banks to really identify their customers in the overall context of Know Your Customer (KYC) initiative.

The NUBAN is a 10-digit bank account numbering system that is simpler to use than traditional longer account numbering structures, and is in line with requirements of the West Africa Monetary Institute, towards the economic integration of ECOWAS countries.

The circular, signed by Dipo Fatokun, the CBN’s Director, Banking and Payments System Department, said that the Central Bank of Nigeria had observed the progress made so far in the implementation of the BVN Project. However, it had decided to increase the tempo in the enrolment by the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) customers on the BVN, by stipulating milestones for the implementation of the Project,

Consequently, all stakeholders have been hereby advised to note and implement the following:

  • That by March 2015, transactions valued at N100,000,000.00 (One hundred million Naira) and above, should only be allowed for customers with the BVN; (These include, but not limited to, money transfers, loans, contingencies, etc).
  • That by June 2015, all banks’ customers should have the BVN. Any bank customer without the BVN would be deemed to have inadequate KYC;
  • DMBs should intensify efforts to sensitize their customers on the aforementioned development and enrol them for the BVN accordingly.
  • DMBs are required to submit to NIBSS, as part of their weekly returns on Customers Account Details, the account status of customers that have submitted their BVN and those that have not. NIBSS in turn, will render consolidated returns to the CBN, on weekly basis, starting from ‘1st October 2014.

It would seem that the bankers committee have come up with a one bullet solution that will take care of duplication of individual identities across banks, check fraud, prevent identity theft, and make ordinary people who cannot read and write to also make financial transactions. However, having seen several identity unification projects in the past fail to live up to expectations, Nigerians can only wait and see the outcome of this new move by the CBN.

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