24 December 2016, Lagos — Total number of bank customers that have registered on the Bank Verification Number (BVN) as at November 2016 stood at 49.14 million,
data compiled from the Nigeria Interbank Settlement Systems Plc’s (NIBSS) website revealed.
The data showed that the figure represented a significant increase, compared with the 21.2 million recorded exactly a year ago.
The data also showed that on a monthly basis, the enrollment on BVN has continued to improve steadily.
For instance, as at January this year, 30.13 million customers had gotten their BVN, compared with the 2.24 million it was as at January 2015. Also, enrolment increased further to 31.11 million as at February this year (2.71 million as at February 2015); 32.19 million in March (3.34 million as at March 2015); 33.63 million in April 2016 (7.71 million April 2015); 35.44 million in May (9.2 million as at May 2015); and 36.12 million as at June (12.49 million as at June 2015).
Furthermore, the data showed that enrolment on the BVN platform sustained its uptick in July, when it climbed to 36.79 million registered bank customers (12.73 million as at July 2015); 46.39 million in August 2016 (13.74 million in same month in 2015); 47.35 million in as at September (14.58 million as at September 2015); and 48.14 million customers as at October this year.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, had introduced the BVN on February 14, 2014. The initiative was aimed at ensuring unique identity for all bank customers and other users of financial services in the country by the use of the customers’ biometrics as means of identification.
The BVN is a number that enables one person to have a single identity in the banking system. It basically ensures that a customer’s identity is not stolen. It has been described as a ‘silver-bullet solution’ to many of the challenges in the banking industry. A customer is only expected to register at one bank, irrespective of the number of accounts he has.
Certain forms of identification are easy to counterfeit, which had led to a rise in identity theft today. But by making use of the BVN biometrics technologies, the banking industry would enjoy enhanced security, providing consumers with better security that protects their money, financial information and identity.
According to a report by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, there are many advantages associated with secure, unique identification. The primary effect will be improved access to financial services, enabling people to benefit from credit and savings facilities.
Research has also shown that proper customer identification can have a positive effect on the behaviour of risky users of financial services. The scheme is also expected to improve the banking system’s Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements as stated by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as well as to support innovative banking solutions, especially for retail banking.
The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele recently explained that the BVN solution would stimulate banking transactions and also improve access to credit by customers. Emefiele noted that with the BVN, the banking industry would begin to see the opening up of consumer credit opportunities.
He said: “We are saying that with this project people who want to buy cars, want to do a mortgage with the kind of data that would be fed into the centralised system and it should be possible for you to access bank credit easily.”
Meanwhile, the NIBSS data showed that the total number of bank accounts was 95 million as at November 2016. But the total active bank accounts were 64.13 million as at November.
*Obinna Chima – Thisday