As the June deadline set for bank customers to get their Bank Verification Number (BVN) draws near, issues have begun to arise from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s initiative which was launched last year February.
Leadership investigations reveal that aside the fact that many customers are still unaware of the biometric registration, complications in the process have begun to discourage some customers.
The BVN launched by the former CBN governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, just before he was suspended from office last year is targeted at creating a stronger Know Your Customer (KYC) for banks, strengthen the various security platforms and also facilitate increased lending to
However, as the deadline approaches, customers are having a hard time completing the process. Narrating her ordeal, a young lady who banks with one of the top tier banks, Ada, said she had gone into the bank to activate her internet banking but was told that she had to get her BVN. According to her, she had registered her biometrics at another branch of the same bank earlier in the year and already has her BVN.
“The customer service lady kept insisting that I had not done it and when I gave her my BVN number to check on the system, she said the registration I did earlier did not upload and I had to get another one.
“It is quite upsetting because I got the number after registering for the second time and now I am being told I have to do it again or do a letter to that effect and all this is happening in the same bank. What if i had to use another bank?” she queried.
Another customer, Omolara Michael, who has accounts with three of the big banks in the country, explained that having done her BVN in one of the banks, she was told to come back to pick up her BVN if she does not get the number in a message after one week.
“When I went back, I was told that I was not registered and had to do it all over again, and even when I had to use another bank, I still had to do the registration again there and I was also told to come back to pick up the BVN, but I have not had the chance to go and pick it up,” she explained.
All this is against the claims by the Nigeria Inter Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) which coordinates the data gathered that data would only have to be taken at one bank irrespective of the number of accounts or banks an individual uses. This has, however, not proved to be so as customers still have to reregister when they use other banks despite the fact that they have their BVN. As one bank official in one of the big banks explained, “We still have to take the biometrics so that the data can be synchronised and we are sure that it is the same person who is running both accounts.”
This means that for any customer who has active accounts with up to five or more banks, he or she will have to register at all the banks. Meanwhile, this was one of the issues that was raised at the last Bankers Committee Meeting held in Lagos last week. According to the chief executive of Citi Bank, Omar Hafeez, who addressed journalists in the company of some other bank executives and senior officials of the CBN after the meeting, the banks are well aware of the various issues which has arisen with the implementation of the BVN.
“The issue of registering with more than one bank where you have accounts has been taken up and was discussed today and there are certain solutions that are being worked on,” he assured.
“The objective has always been that you register with one bank and then communicate your BVN number to other banks that you may have accounts with. The objective is not that you go to every single bank and go through the process and that is what we are trying to work on. There will be some confusion at first but that will be sorted out. Issues will definitely come up, for example there is also the issue of how to get the BVN for those that do not reside in the country. We are all aware of the issues and we are working towards solutions on a very proactive basis,” Hafeez stated.