It was a hectic day for customers and bankers yesterday in Abuja, as various account holders rushed to their premises to beat the deadline given by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN for the completion of customers’ Bank Verification Number, BVN registration.
The customers besieged commercial banks in large numbers in Abuja to register their accounts and obtain the mandatory number.
As early as 8am, most of the customers had positioned themselves at the entrances of the banks awaiting the arrival of the officials to commence the exercise.
The Bankers’ Committee had late 2014, directed commercial banks to carry out biometric verification of their customers and issue them unique numbers which will be on a designated data base that would be accessible to all the commercial banks, thus assisting them in dictating fraudulent financial transactions.
According to the apex bank, the exercise, if properly done will curb model of financial fraud in the system, introduce a unified financial system, and avail funds for lending at an affordable interest rate to the private sector for investment.
As at 2:13pm when Nigerian Pilot visited some commercial banks in various parts of Abuja, there were queues of customers stretching from the banks’ premises to the adjourning streets.
At the two First Bank branches located in Wuse Zone 2, customers were restricted from going inside the crowd.
A customer, Mallam Musa Kabir, said that he had been in the bank since 8:30am waiting to be attended to. He pleaded for an extension of the exercise.
A security official at one of the banks said that the management had directed that the distribution of the BVN forms be stopped.
At Fidelity Bank in Wuse Zone 3, a banker said that the exercise had been going on since last year and the response of the people had been encouraging, though others were reluctant to comply with the directive.
The situation was different at Enterprise Bank as the large numbers of customer were well- organised for easy attention. Our correspondent observed that enough seats were provided for them.
Inside the banking hall, a staffer said that they had stopped issuing forms to the customers.
A source at a branch of Zenith Bank who preferred not to be mentioned, said that the response to the registration was encouraging. He also explained that in order to help customers register before the deadline elapses, the bank had channelled its resources to the customers’ service.
No going back on BVN deadline – CBN
Meanwhile, the Special Assistant (Communication) to CBN Governor, Mr. Ugochukwu Okoroafor, while featuring on a Channels TV business programme, yesterday, ruled out possible extension of the exercise. “Remember that this exercise started since last year but customers have been reluctant in doing the exercise, until this 11th hour.
“Prior to now, you will observe that some people have different accounts with different names and addresses, and that had frustrated the effort of the financial managers in tackling the issues of debt recovery and fraud in the system. So far, 14 million customers have been captured in the exercise, out of over 40 million existing bank accounts,” he said.
He said that customers who failed to be captured in the exercise risk being cut off from certain services, especially as it concerns electronic services.
Okoroafor noted that more grace would be given to customers in diaspora due to some peculiar challenges which cannot be tackled at the moment, but warned that sanctions await customers who fail to comply with the exercise within the grace period.
Also, the CBN Director of Corporate Communication, Mu’azu Ibrahim, said that it was not necessary to extend it as ample time was given to customers to do the registration. Mu’azu, during the live interview, said that the deadline for registration remains today.
According to him, “bank customers were given adequate time, it is expected they should have taken advantage of the period scheduled for the exercise to register.”
He however disclosed that contrary to the speculation that customers who do not have BVN will be prevented from making transactions, such as payments and withdrawals, only customers using remote access services: internet banking, Automated Teller Machines, ATMs and other on-line services would be affected.