Nigeria says BVN-linked citizens bank accounts hit 55.2m

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Bank accounts linked to Bank Verification Number (BVN) have reached 55.2 million, data from the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) has shown.

This was an improvement from 47.54 million BVN-linked accounts position as at April 11, last year.

The data, however, fell short of the 100 million BVN-linked account target set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for deposit money banks by 2025.

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BVN is a unique identity number issued to bank customers at enrolment and linked to their accounts.

Customers are required to enrol within a fixed period after which they shall no longer be able to operate their accounts, and entails capturing of 10 fingers and facial image

“For authentication, individuals performing banking transactions (e.g applying for loans) shall be required to identify themselves using their biometric features which will be matched against information in the central database,” NIBSS said.

NIBSS added with BVN, customers bank accounts are protected from unauthorised access, will address issues of identity theft, thus reduce exposure to fraud, standardise efficiency of banking operations and enhance the banking industry chances of being able to fish out blacklisted customers.

The CBN, in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, NIBSS, and a German firm, Dermalog, launched the $50 million BVN project on February 14, 2014, to capture biometrics of bank customers and giving them a unique identity that can be verified across the banking industry.

The apex bank said increase in BVN enrolment would address the constraint that poor identification has on the availability of credit to prospective banking customers, particularly, those in the informal sector.

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The Bankers’Committee also unveiled a new plan that required classification of BVN into two – BVN Premium and BVN Lite.

The CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, said BVN Premium would cover customers that could provide the 18 basic requirements for a BVN enrolment, while the BVN Lite would require minimal documentation like name and phone number for bank customers, especially those in the rural areas that do not meet the full requirements.

This, he said, would enable such grassroots’ customers, mainly the poor, conduct minimal financial services and reduce financial exclusion rate.