By Kehinde Ibrahim, Lagos
ENROLMENTS for the Biometric Verification Number (BVN) by bank account owners in the country rose by 2.3 million in the last three months, New Telegraph has learnt. According to data released by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the new enrolments recorded between January and March brought the total registration to 54 million as of April 10, 2022.
As of December 26, 2021, the enrolment for the number stood at 51.7 million. Checks revealed that the BVN database grew by six million in the year. NIBSS data showed that active bank accounts in the country stood at 133.5 million as of December 2021.
While there may be multiple accounts linked to a single BVN, industry analysts said there is still a gap between bank accounts and BVN registrations, which must be filled.
According to NIBSS, BVN gives bank account owners a unique identity that can be verified across the Nigerian banking industry, while it ensures that customers’ bank accounts are protected from nauthorised access.
Emphasising the need for the number, NIBSS noted that with the increasing incidents of compromise on conventional security systems (password and PIN), there was a high demand for greater security for access to sensitive or personal information in the Banking System.
“In recent times, biometric technologies have been used to analyze human characteristics as an enhanced form of authentication for real-time security processes,” it said.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, NIBSS, and a German firm, Dermalog, launched the $50 million BVN project on February 14, 2014, with the aim of capturing biometrics of all bank customers and giving them a unique identity that can be verified across the Nigerian banking industry.
The project is also aimed at deepening financial inclusion in the country. To have many more Nigerians on the BVN database, CBN had in December 2019 announced the commencement of the classification BVN 2.0 plan that allows both the rich and poor in rural areas to access financial services.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who broke the news at the end of the 11th Bankers’ Committee retreat in Ogere, Ogun State, explained that BVN will now be classified into two, BVN Premium and BVN Lite.
According to him, while BVN Premium covers customers that can provide the 18 basic requirements for a complete BVN enrolment, the BVN Lite requires minimal documentations like name and phone numbers for bank customers, especially those in the rural areas that do not meet the full requirements.
The initiative, which is in collaboration with the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) and Mobile Money Operators (MMOs), would ensure more Nigerians are brought into the financial system.
“The BVN 2.0 classification scheme will help bring more people into the financial system and reduce the financial exclusion rate,” the CBN Governor had said.
The “Know Your Customer (KYC) scheme is part of what will be migrated into the BVN Lite. However, some people are currently financially excluded, like people in our rural communities that carry phones but do not have financial services.
With the collaboration of NCC, we are putting this BVN arrangement to allow them to conduct minimal financial services. “It should be possible for us to migrate these people into the BVN lite arrangement where they can conduct minimal financial services, not just banking services, but minimal financial services, insurance, and anything you want to conduct in terms of finance, e-payment, or anything, you can do it with the aid of your phone.
Bringing them into the financial system will help to increase the rate of financial inclusion and reduce the exclusion rate,” Emefiele added