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Bank customers drop to 59m in 2017, as BVN accounts grow

The number of bank customers in the country dropped significantly in 2017 when compared with the depositors’ number in 2016, indicating that more Nigerians are not really positioned to save.

Official data on the depositors sourced from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System’s, NIBSS’, website showed that the total number of bank customers dropped from 61 million in 2016 to 59 million in 2017.

This is even as active bank accounts dropped from 65 million in 2016 to 63.5 million accounts last year

However, the NIBSS’ data showed that the Bank Verification Number, BVN, registration reflected improvement in the year under review with the linked BVN accounts growing from 26 million in 2016, to 41.3 million in 2017.

Despite the efforts of the CBN, the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and the Micro Finance Banks (MFBs) to take banking services to unbanked Nigerians, analysts partly link the declining bank customers’ base to the high rates of unemployment and poverty in the economy.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had reported that the unemployment rate increased from 14.2% in Q4 2016 to 16.2% in Q2 2017 and 18.8% in Q3 2017.

The Bureau also reported that the number of people within the labour force who are unemployed or underemployed increased from 13.6 million and 17.7 million respectively in Q2 2017, to 15.9 million and 18.0 million in Q3 2017.

Overall, the Bureau puts the total unemployment and underemployment rate as increasing from 37.2% in Q2, 2017 to 40.0% in the succeeding quarter.

Similarly, the latest World Poverty Clock report indicated that currently, 82 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty, which is 42.4 percent of the country’s population.

The World Poverty Clock, a brainchild of the World Data Lab, tracks poverty estimates in about 99.7 percent of the countries in the world, using data obtained from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, United Nations.

Living in extreme poverty as defined by the World Bank is living under $1.90 per day and people living in extreme poverty are unable to meet their minimal needs for survival.

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