WITH two months to the expiration of the fresh deadline that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, set for the conclusion of the exercise, the number of bank customers that have so far enrolled on the Bank Verification Number, BVN, platform has risen to 19 million.
The CBN Deputy Director, Banking and Payments System Department, Mr. Musa Jimoh, disclosed this at an interactive session with journalists during the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) Bi-Monthly Forum held in Lagos last week.
Mr. Jimoh urged bank customers who were yet to enroll on the BVN platform to endeavour to do so before the expiration of the October 31 deadline as there would be no further extension of the registration period for the exercise.
According to him, customers who do not obtain their BVN at the expiration of the deadline may not be able to deposit into or make withdrawals from their accounts.
He emphasized that there would be no hiding place for people who use multiple identities to perpetrate fraud in the industry after October 31 2015 when all bank customers are expected to have their BVN.
The CBN top official pointed out that the BVN would also allow the industry to determine the actual number of bank customers in the country.
As he put it, “There are various estimates of the total number of bank customers in the country. But some people have two or three accounts. However, with the BVN, we will be able to know how many bank customers we have in the industry.”
It would be recalled that the CBN had extended the initial June 30 2015 deadline for the BVN registration by four months to October 31, 2015.
The BVN, which is an initiative of the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee, was launched on February 14, 2014. It is a unique identifier for each bank customer across the financial industry, making it possible to build and track customer financial history and activity.
This will allow banks access to more reliable information that could inform decisions on customer loan and credit applications and other complex transactions.
Meanwhile the CBN Director, Banking and Payments System Department, ‘Dipo Fatokun has said that the apex bank is taking strategic steps to ensure that the level of fraud arising from e-payment transactions are reduced to the barest minimum,
Speaking during the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) Bi-Monthly Forum held in Lagos at the weekend, he said the Payments System Vision 2020 launched in 2013, was meant to achieve the re-organisation of the National Payments Governance Structure and encourage more people to embrace e-payment transactions.
Fatokun, who was represented by the CBN Deputy Director, Banking and Payments System Department, Musa Jimoh, said the project identified agriculture, smart cities, health, transportation, hotels, entertainment, government flow, education and Consumer Bill Payment as well as direct debits as focus areas.
However, Fatokun explained that the absence of a unique identifier in the banking industry has negative consequences on the growth of e-payments and that the need to resolve the challenge that prompted the CBN, in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee to launch the BVN project.
“The BVN initiative is aimed at protecting bank customers and further strengthening the Nigerian banking system by uniquely identifying all bank customers and acts as a stop-gap, prior to the full implementation of the National Identity Card system,” he said.
Also, the CBN mandated all Banks, Switches and Processors to comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCIDSS) and subsequently conducted an oversight on compliance which showed that most banks had been certified.
He said the certification lasts for one year and banks are currently at various levels of re-certification. He explained that PCIDSS is a global compliance standard for any entity that stores, transmits or processes card payment data.
The apex bank, Fatokun said, also directed banks to set up systems that will enable the automatic refund of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) dispense errors to customers. The regulator has also issued guidelines for card issuance and usage meant to provide minimum standards and requirements for the issuance and usage of payment cards in the country.
“Its implementation enables issuing banks, other financial institution, processors and cards schemes upgrade and maintain their card operations to ensure optimum security, efficiency, cost effectiveness and customer friendliness,” he said.
The platform, he added, also serves as a tool for banks and other financial institutions to assess their card issuance portfolio and ensures that consumers that carry Nigerian -issued cards operate within acceptable standards.
“From a regulatory perspective; the CBN acknowledges that less than optimal, inefficient or poorly designed systems will ultimately have a negative impact on systemic stability, economic development and growth. It has therefore consciously pursued the growth of a payments system that is safe, efficient, cost effective and reliable,” he said.
He said payment systems have moved from the backroom to the boardroom of organisations given its strategic importance in today’s globalised world. He pointed out that a well-functioning payment system plays a significant role in supporting the economy.
He explained that such significance prompted the apex bank to promote a payment system where the underserved and non-served are integrated into formal financial services sector.

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