December 14, 2019

Bankers Committee introduces two classes of BVN


Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu & Herbert Wigwe

Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu & Herbert Wigwe

*To deploy measures to stop cyber-attacks on banks

*CBN to develop cybersecurity operations centre

By Babajide Komolafe

The Bankers Committee yesterday introduced a classification of the Biometric Verification Number (BVN), namely BVN Premium and BVN Lite, in order to fast track the achievement of the financial inclusion goal of 20 per cent by 2020.

The Committee which comprises the chief executive of banks and senior management of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), also announced fresh steps to stop cyber attacks on Nigerian banks.

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Governor, CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele disclosed this at a press briefing at the end of the 11th annual Bankers Committee retreat held in Ogere, Ogun State.

Emefiele said that classification marks the second phase of the BVN initiative which was introduced in 2014.

The BVN is a centralized biometric identification system for the banking industry. The BVN represents a unique identity for every bank customer that can be verified across the banking industry. Presently, over 40.2 million bank customers have been enrolled and have a  BVN.

Speaking on the rationale for the classification of the BVN, Emefiele said: We now have about 40 million people on the BVN platform. We think that because of the benefits of the BVN to bank customers and the economy there is a need to consolidate and move BVN to a new level, something like 2.0.

Explaining further, he said: This entails, for instance, to reclassify and segregate transactions that could be done on BVN. We have two classifications. The existing BVN that we have in the system has about 18 lines of information.

“We decided that we classify into BVN premium and BVN lite.

There should also be a system where people who are financially excluded can now be included. If you are on BVN Lite there is a limit to the kind of transactions you can do in terms of deposit and in terms of loans.”

Explaining how the classification will boost the nations financial inclusion efforts, the CBN boss said: The important thing is that we want to make you financially included where you can conduct basic banking services.

There are people who are currently financially excluded, like people in our rural communities that carry phones but not having 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 this person 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 whether electronic payment or anything, you can do it with the aid of your phone. Now as you bring them into the financial system, what it will do is that it will help to increase our rate of financial inclusion and reduce the exclusion rate.

Measures to stop cyberattacks

Meanwhile, the Bankers Committee said it would soon introduce measures to stop cyber-attacks on banks.

Emefiele disclosed this,  saying this is to ensure a safe and conducive to cyberspace which is critical to promoting the digital economy that Nigerians deserve.

He said that the measures to be introduced include Panic Alert which would help to reduce losses to the minimum losses cyber attacks in the industry.

“The Committee agreed to put in place measures such as a panic alert to protect not just the deposit money banks but also the depositor’s funds that are in the custody of the deposit money banks, he said

Speaking further, Emefiele said that the Committee noted that the lack of capacity to control and manage cyber risks have been resulting to incidences of loss money not just only to the bank customers but also to the customers themselves.

Hence, he said, the Committee resolved that every deposit money bank should develop and invest massively in tools, both soft and hardware that will stop cyber attacks on their operations so as to reduce to the barest minimum not just to the banking industry but also to the customers.

CBN’s Cyber Security Operations Center in the offing

Speaking further, Emefiele said the CBN as part of its efforts to forestall cyberattacks on the industry is developing a cybersecurity operations centre, which would serve as a gateway to checkmating such attacks on the banking industry.

He said: On our part in CBN we are looking at investing in a security operations centre that will act as a gateway not only for banks.  It’s like you have a baby, and somebody is about to attack that baby. As a parent, you see to it that you abort or nip in the bud that attacks in order to protect the child from being attacked by an intruder.

Unfortunately, we are all naked today as a result of internet and cyber and we all have to do everything to protect ourselves.

by the time the security operations centre being built by the CBN is ready am sure that even some of our security agencies will be able to tap into some of the capabilities that are being developed by this centre.