Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) will at the end of May begin allocating uniform numbers (Bank Verification Number) that will be unique to every customer, the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria Interbank-Settlement System (NIBSS) have said.
CBN spokesman Isaac Okoroafor, who disclosed this to reporters at the weekend, said the BVN was a continuation of the $50 million biometrics project instituted by the apex bank, Bankers’ Committee, Dermalog and Charms Plc.
He said the BVN has been deployed in all head offices of banks where their members of staff started enrollment since March 31.
So far, between 42 and 48 bank offices have been covered.
Okoroafor said the use of drivers’ licence, international passport and other forms of identity cards for account opening may no longer be required once the public enrolment to the BVN commences.
The BVN, he said, enables each individual to have a single identification within the financial system and gives each customer maximum protection and security of transactions. Although he did not give enrolment deadline for the public, he said, it was compulsory for every account holder to enroll on the platform.
The CBN spokesman said the earlier a customer enrolls the better for the banking system. He said the CBN collaborated with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in the execution of the project.
“The NIMC is fully in this, but the data requirement for the project is fewer for the data requirement for NIMC. What is required is that if one registers now, and he just needs to update the data with NIMC, he simply adds additional information,” he said.
Okoroafor said there was the possibility of harmonising the BVN with NIMC identity project.
Biometric Project Manager at NIBSS, Oluseyi Adenmosun, said although there was no perfect system, the essence of technology and safety measures was to frustrate fraudsters .
He said the BVN would make it extremely difficult for the fraud perpetrators to succeed.
“It will not completely eliminate fraud, but it will cut it to the barest minimum. The biometrics cannot be easily stolen because it is based on once and once the system captures it, because it is based on fingerprints,” he said.
Adenmosun said although the chip and pin technology is deployed in Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Sale (PoS), they can be compromised, but the BVN makes that extremely difficult.
He explained that for corporate accounts, the account signatories’ BVNs will be captured.
“In corporate accounts, it is only the signatory to the accounts that are captured, not directors of the company. The directors are not functional users of the accounts, and will not be captured.
“The whole idea of CBN behind fraud mitigation is to provide special anti-fraud system for banks. It is going to handshake with the BVN project, so that every suspicious account is flagged off. So, we expect that every functional account will have a BVN, and if an account that is used for fraud, does not have a corresponding BVN, then the concerned bank will face the full ambit of the law. That means the bank is allowing an account without BVN to run. That’s how we can track owners of fraudulent accounts.
“If you don’t have a BVN and the anti-fraud system throws up your account as a suspect, then that bank is also aiding and abetting you. Because the truth of it is that we can only mitigate, we can’t stop fraud completely people will try. And when they try, the account they are trying with, has already been enrolled in the BVN, we will know. And those kinds of accounts would have been stored in what we call a watch list,” he added.