Say it will undermine financial inclusion
By Elizabeth Adegbesan
BANK customers have faulted the imposition of the National Identification Number (NIN) as single identifier for banking transactions, saying this could undermine achievement of the nation’s financial inclusion goal.
Financial Vanguard investigations revealed that some banks have started using the NIN as criteria for banking transactions.
A text message from one of the banks to its customers stated: “Dear customer, please be informed that the use of the NIN has been made mandatory by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and you will be required to present your NIMC card or slip to enjoy certain financial services”.
Bank customers who spoke to Financial Vanguard on this development, observed that enrolment for NIN is not yet widespread, due to the stressful and bureaucratic procedure, and hence making it mandatory for banking transaction now will deny many Nigerians access to financial services.
According to the President, Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, BCAN, Dr. Uju Ogubunka, “ I do not foresee a problem-free operations if NIN is used by banks as the only means of identification. How many people have the card? What will happen to those at the rural areas? Even with current multiple means of identification, many people still find it very difficult to obtain one. If banks commence this single identifier, I foresee challenges that will negatively impact on financial inclusion generally and potential bank customers.
“My opinion on such development is that since we have done the Bank Verification Number, BVN, which, as it were, has everybody’s data, there is no need to repeat the issue of identification.”
On his part, President, Association of Mobile Money Agents of Nigeria (AMMAN), Mr. Olojo Victor, said: “The enforcement of NIN by banks will have a grave effect because it will further cut people out and not promote financial inclusion. What the CBN, federal government and banks should do for now is to see what can be done to register a large chunk of Nigerians. If more Nigerians are registered then there is no problem.
“ If we are to do a review I would ask how many Nigerians have NIN? If this is enforced, people will further be disenfranchised. People will be cut out of the financial divide. For instance, the micro finance bank customers, those involved in cooperatives or savings and loans and thrift collectors who are not well regulated, they form layers and parts of the financial system.
“More should be done in enabling Nigerians register and have their NIN before enforcing such policy. Without proper registering of Nigerians before the enforcement of NIN, we will have a policy summersault. This means that the same FG promoting financial inclusion would be the one trying to take people out of the financial system in terms of accessibility to basic financial services.”
Narrating the ordeal he went through in order to acquire NIN, a bank customer and home accessories trader, Mr. Jerry Amadi said: “I have a NIN. But the process of acquiring the NIN is stressful. I had to wait for five hours before I could go through the entire process of registration. If banks are enforcing the use of NIN, it is a good development. But what do we do with the pile of means of identification we use presently. The banks should give Nigerians more time to acquire their NIN and the NIMC should make the process of capturing of data easy.”
Another bank customer, Nwanmadu Prince, who sells overhead electrical equipments said: “I have an account with Zenith Bank and they haven’t informed me of such development. If my bank sends me a notification I would contact my lawyer and go through the process of registration if need be. I wonder how many mode of Identification we would need to carry out transactions in banks.”
However, Head Research and Strategy, FSDH Merchant Bank, Ayodele Akinwunmi noted that the enforcement of NIN will increase bank’s lending to customers.
The enforcement of NIN for customer Identification by banks is ethical. It has really helped a lot because it is used to track people. The BVN has really helped a lot because the banks use it to track defaulters.”