By Emeka Aginam
As the June, 2015 deadline for bank customers to get their Bank Verification Number (BVN) draws closer, customers are in the last minutes rush to enrol on the exercise.
The BVN was launched last year February by the apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria as part of its cashless policy to capture customers’ data and check fraud in the banking system.
The BVN launched by the former CBN governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is targeted at creating a stronger Know Your Customer (KYC) for banks, to strengthen the various security platforms and also facilitate increased lending to customers.
It would be recalled that the BVN enrolment was commissioned by the Bankers Committee as part of its financial inclusion strategies.
Accordingly, the BVN gives each bank customer unique identity across the Nigerian banking industry that can be used for easy identification and verification at point of banking operation.
The exercise includes getting bank customers biometrics, with the use of fingerprints, and facial image, after which each customer will be given a bank verification number.‘
The BVN enrolment which is a continuation of the $50 million biometric project involving the CBN, the Bankers’ Committee, NIBSS, Dermalog and Charms Plc, was meant to assign a unique number to every bank customer for enhanced security of transactions.
The scheme, according to the promoters was further aimed at helping to prevent identity theft and fraud in the industry. It is also expected to enhance credit advancement to customers.
However, the BVN issued at the point of enrolment will be linked to all customer’s bank account in Nigeria.
The exercise became imperative following the continuous cases of security issues arising from passwords and Personal Identification Number (PIN) of customers.
Although there was initial low turnout of customers with respect to registration in the ongoing BVN exercise as a result of poor awareness and lack of interest , bank customers, according to Vanguard Sun Tech findings are now compelled to comply with the CBN mandate otherwise they will not be allowed to do any transaction with any of the commercial banks across the country.
Meanwhile, a close monitoring of banking activities in Lagos State at the weekend showed that customers were fully complying as they were not allowed to do any transaction without completing the exercise.
At most banking halls visited by Vanguard Sun Tech News on Friday last week in Lagos, bank customers were seen queuing in the line to complete the exercise.
“I have no choice now. I have to do the enrolment now as the bank official here said that I will not do any banking transaction unless I do the BVN enrolment. I wanted to transfer money to my brother in school through electronic transfer method but cannot do that unless the BVN is completed”, a customer who pleaded anonymous told Vanguard Sun Tech News at the United Bank for Africa, UBA, Berger Yard branch , Kikiri, Apapa, Lagos.
According to him, the exercise is good but lamented that the challenge is ability of customers to make out time to complete the process.
At the Zenith bank, Allen avenue, Ikeja Lagos, the situation is the same thing as customers were seen in the banking hall completing their application form to enable them do their transaction.
“Before now, I did not make out time in my busy schedule to complete the exercise. But because it now compulsory, I do not have choice other than do it. This is like last minute rush anyway”, Peter Obi, a trader at Computer Village Ikeja told Vanguard Sun Tech News.
He admitted that the BVN is in the interest of bank customers because of security issues in password and identity theft.
Further monitoring of banking activities also showed that the last minute rush is more work for bank official as it was not really under compulsion to enrol when the exercise kicked off last year. But now, bank officials are strongly advising customers to enrol in the exercise in their best interest.
Normally, customers get their ticket identification number after enrolment as their their BVN will be sent to them via text message after some days.
“Pressure is more now as customers are strongly advised to do it otherwise they cannot engage in any transaction in bank. By end of June this year, every bank customer should have registered”, an Operation Manager working in one the commercial banks in Lagos told Vanguard Sun Tech in confidence.
According to her, there will be a time when customers will spend more time in the banking hall to enrol as there will be many people waiting to be enrolled at the same time.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director, Nigeria Interbank Settlement System Plc, Mr. Ade Shonubi, had earlier said that customers who have completed the mandatory biometric registration at any bank branch will start collecting their Bank Verification Number cards very soon.
He assured that no bank customer would be charged for the cards and that lenders would soon begin the distribution of the BVN cards.