Ahead of October 31 deadline: 32m account holders yet to register for BVN

Customers besiege banks as BVN registration deadlines expires

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that 32 million active bank accounts have yet to be enrolled on the Biometric Verification Number (BVN). In a statement in Abuja weekend, Alhaji Mu’azu Ibrahim, CBN Director, Corporate Communications, said CBN was concerned by the number of account owners yet to enrol, considering that the exercise would end by October 31.

The CBN also said the BVN would encourage banks to grant loans to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and students in the country. “One of the most potent arguments advanced by banks for not extending enough credit to prospective credit customers in Nigeria has been the absence of credible identity system. Thus, it was agreed that the scheme would make access to credit easier for low income earners in the society,” the Apex bank said.CBN in collaboration with all banks in Nigeria on February 14, 2014, launched the BVN, which is a centralised biometric identification system for the banking industry. It aims at addressing issues of identity theft and fraud and will help to discover blacklisted customers, reduce queues in banking halls and standardise efficiency of banking operations.

The CBN had initially put the deadline of BVN registration at June 30 but postponed it to Oct. 31 because of low enrolment. According to the statement, after 18 month of the exercise, empirical evidence shows that a good number of bank customers are reluctant and have not taken the exercise seriously.

“The emerging statistical trend of the BVN registration exercise shows that there are about 52 million active bank accounts in various banks. Out of this, total enrolment stands at about 20 million, out of which about 14 million accounts have been found linked to the BVN as at September, 2015. The question now is whether bank customers have been taking advantage of the extension to complete their BVN registration and also ensure that their various bank accounts have been linked to the BVN,” it stated.

The statement revealed that after the initial rush from June ending to July, there had been a steady decline in new BVN enrolment figures for August and September. It stated that the development indicated that many bank account holders had continued to show apathy instead of taking advantage of the extension period to complete the registration.

“Bank customers are urged to take advantage of the remaining time to complete the registration. This is so as to avoid the commotion and melee experienced at various banking halls in the month of June. The CBN has made it clear that there would not be further extension after the October 31, 2015 deadline,” the statement said.

It said this meant that customers without the BVN-linked accounts might risk being restricted from normal operations of their accounts or access to their bank account balancesthat for about 52 million  active  bank  accounts  in various  banks,  total  enrolment  stood at about 20 million, out of which,  about 14 million accounts  have been  found  linked to the BVN as at  September, 2015,” the source said.

The CBN,  in collaboration with the Bankers’  Committee,  introduced the Bank Verification Number  (BVN)  on February 14, 2014 to create a 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.

It was originally meant to last for 18 months, terminating on June 30, 2015. However, at the expiration of the estimated  18  months after the launch,  empirical evidence showed  that a good number of bank customers  were reluctant and  never took  the  exercise  seriously. Thus, few days to the end of the mandatory 18 months,   there was commotion and stampede  in  banking halls across the country,  as customers tried to beat the deadline for  the  BVN registration.

This  confusion  necessitated the call for the extension of the registration dateline by four months to October 31, 2015.  What is required is for bank customers to  visit any branch of their banks and the desk officer  would capture  their finger  print  and  a  photograph of  their face,  their   signatures  and  present a photocopy of  either  a driver’s license, national identity  card or international passport.

One of the excuses by banks for refusing to extend credit to prospective credit customers in Nigeria has been  the absence of credible  identity  system.  Thus, it was agreed that  the scheme would make credit access to  low income earners easier, especially operators of  Micro,  Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, and even students.