The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that 31 million bank account customers have been captured so far through the Bank Verification Number (BVN) project nationwide.
The apex bank’s CBN Director, Banking and Payment System, Mr Dipo Fatokun, gave this hint in a paper titled, `Nigeria’s progress towards the creation of a robust, trusted and inclusive Financial Services Environment’ delivered at the annual meeting of the ID4Africa movement in Abuja.
This is even as he said that 43,959,282 banks accounts had been linked in the course of implementing the BVN project.
Fatokun clarified: “To address the absence of a unique identifier in the Nigerian banking industry and to facilitate the creation of inclusive financial services environment. The CBN in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee launched the BVN Project on Feb. 14, 2014, with biometric solution, as a unique identifier for all bank customers.
“The objectives includes the following: increase access, convenience, service levels across the industry; enable greater financial inclusion and integration of financial services into the economy, with its attendant positive impact on economic development,’’ he added.
Explaining that the BVN is also targeted at promoting safe and sound financial system in the country, the banking expert said that the project had also helped in the provision of unique identity for customers that impact other areas such as credit check, and non-repudiation of transactions.
He said: “Most importantly, it has created avenues for people who cannot write regular signature to make financial transactions, thus, facilitating financial inclusion.
“As at December 2017, the implementation of the BVN Project recorded 31,426,091 registered BVNs and 43,959,282- accounts linked with BVN.
“Nigeria launched its National Financial Inclusion Strategy in October 2012 with the goal of reducing the percentage adult Nigerians that are excluded from financial services from 46.3 per cent in 2010 to 20 per cent by 2020”, Fatokun added.
According to him, a number of factors were identified as barriers to financial inclusion among Nigerians, including lack of income, long distance to access points, lack of knowledge about financial services, high cost of services and cumbersome requirements for account opening.
He explained further that in order to achieve the set target, and to address the aforementioned barriers, different measures and initiatives were put in place by the apex bank, adding that “to address the cumbersome documentation requirement for account opening, the CBN introduced the Three-tiered Know-Your-Customer (T-KYC) in 2013, which was modified in July, 2016.
Fatokun explained:“The three-tiered KYC guideline allows individuals who may not meet the formal identification requirements and in banks to operate and enjoy banking services within defined thresholds. The simplification consists of lowering the account opening requirements and less-paper documentation in exchange for lower threshold.
“The CBN T-KYC is one of the initiatives for improving financial inclusion in Nigeria to facilitate easy access to a broad range of formal financial services,’’ he added.