Data from the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) has shown that bank accounts not linked to Bank Verification Number (BVN) have reached 73.8 million.
Of the 128.4 million bank accounts in the country, 54.52 million accounts are linked to BVN as at May 1, this year, according to data from NIBSS.
This was an improvement from the 47.54 million BVN-linked accounts position as at April 11, last year.
The NIBSS 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 year-end 2025.
According to NIBSS, BVN is a unique identity number issued to every bank customer at enrollment and linked to every account that the customer has in the banks.
Bank customers are required to enroll within a fixed period after which they shall no longer be able to operate their bank accounts, and this entails capturing all 10 fingers and facial images.
“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.
Continuing, NIBSS said with BVN, customers’ bank accounts are protected from unauthorised access, which will address issues of identity theft, thus reducing exposure to fraud, standardise the efficiency of banking operations, and enhancing the banking industry’s 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 the biometrics of the bank customers and give them a unique identity that can be verified across the industry.
The apex bank said the increase in BVN enrollment would address the constraint that poor identification has on the availability of credit to prospective banking customers, particularly, those in the informal sector.
The Bankers’ Committee also unveiled a plan that required the classification of BVN into two – BVN Premium and BVN Lite.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said BVN Premium will cover customers that can provide the 18 basic requirements for a complete BVN enrollment, while the BVN Lite will require minimal documentation like names and phone numbers 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, to conduct minimal financial services and reduce the financial exclusion rate.