Financial analysts have said that Deposit Money Banks need to carry out adequate enlightenment campaigns ahead of the proposed biometric system of identifying customers.
The Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers Committee had on Tuesday sealed a biometric solution pact with a German firm, Dermalog, for the development of a payment system that would be fingerprint-driven.
The move, according to the CBN governor, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, will revolutionise the country’s payment system.
Unlike the current practice where different instruments are used as means of identification, bank customers will from 2014 be identified by their fingerprints.
During the signing of the agreement, which was held at the central bank’s headquarters in Abuja, Sanusi said the system would become operational on February 14, 2014.
Industry analysts said on Sunday that the fingerprints-driven payment system was good for the country, but warned that if the people were not carried along, the initiative might fail to achieve the desired result.
A director at DLM Securities, Mr. Idowu Ogedengbe, said if the response level on the part of bank customers must be prompt and effective, the CBN and the banks should embark on a massive campaign on the procedures and benefits of the policy.
Ogedengbe said, “There is a need for enough campaign to go ahead of the implementation. I believe that necessary enlightenment is supposed to have gone ahead before now so that people can buy into it easily.
“There is the need for much publicity so that the implementation can be seamless. Then, the CBN and the Bankers Committee must be sure that the necessary supporting facilities are on ground so that it won’t be like the cash-less policy that had its implementation partly affected by ineffective platform and other supporting facilities.”
The director also said that passing the cost of the project to banks could further jeopardise their profitability.
He added, “If you look at it from the operational point of view, it will increase the operating cost for the banks, which are currently grappling with profitability challenges.
“If you look at the banks’ nine-month results, you will see that their profit is actually declining. I think passing the cost to the banks may affect their profitability.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Lambeth Investment, Mr. David Adonri, described the initiative as a boost to the entire financial system.
“It is going to cut across the entire financial system. It is part of the Know Your Customer requirement, whereby before the opening of a bank account, customers’ biometrics, including fingerprints and iris will be captured,” he noted.
According to Adonri, customers will no longer need to punch their PIN whenever they want to withdraw cash from the Automated Teller Machine.
He said, “If you stand before the ATM, it will capture your fingerprints or eyes iris to identify you before dispensing the cash. It is a more secure system than what we are currently using.”
Adonri also said market operators must prepare customers for the new regime.