There has been so much talk about Bank Verification Number (BVN) in the Nigerian banking industry for some months now, with some bank customers fearing the loss of their money without being enrolled. And the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is insisting there will no longer be an extension to the period allowed bank customers to get themselves registered on the programme. So what’s all the fuss about the BVN? Here is all you need to know about the Nigeria apex bank initiative.
BVN is a unique number issued to customers of various Nigerian banks to serve as an extra layer of protection against fraud and identity theft in the industry. The CBN says it decided to initiate the scheme as existing security methods (password and PIN) have been observed not to be sufficient to curtail cases of fraud and theft in the system. BVN is based on biometric technology, which relies on unique physiological or behavioural characteristics, such as fingerprint, for identification of individuals. Since no two individuals have similar fingerprints, it is believed this will help to keep dubious characters from having access to your precious bank account(s). The country’s apex bank hopes to also use the system to identify blacklisted customers.
A BVN is acceptable across all Nigerian banks as a means of identification. This means if you have enrolled, say, at GTBank, which offers the innovative*707*money transfer service, and you have been issued a unique number, you do not need to re-register at all other banks in the country where you might have accounts; just submit the BVN issued at GTBank.
How to Enrol
To register, walk into any branch of a Nigerian bank where you operate an account. You will need to do the following:
– Fill a BVN enrolment form (and provide an acceptable means of identification)
– Have your image, fingerprint and signature captured
– Collect an enrolment acknowledgement slip
The CBN says you will receive an SMS confirming enrolment within 24 hours – from experience, it may take longer. Once you get your BVN in an SMS, it is required that you submit the number at other Nigerian banks where you might have accounts for it to be associated to the other accounts.
People in diaspora (the UK, USA, South Africa and other foreign countries) operate accounts in Nigerian banks will be able to enrol through the offshore branches or subsidiaries of their banks. The services of a consultancy firm, Online Integrated Solutions (OIS), have also been engaged for this purpose, but expect to pay.
Deadline and Notes
The BVN registration was earlier slated to end on 30 June2015.However, huge customer turnout towards the deadline made the CBN to extend it to 31 October 2015. The monetary authority said the extension was also to allow Nigerian account holders in diaspora to register.
Some people appear to have concerns that lack of a BVN means confiscation of their hard-earned money – that they will lose the money in their bank accounts. This is not exactly true. Your money will remain in your account, but you may not be able to carry out financial transactions, including online payments, on the account.
What’s not known
There are some aspects of the BVN process that have question marks to them. Some people, including Nigeria’s Consul General in South Africa, have called for further extension for Nigerian bank account holders abroad to register. It is not clear if the CBN will agree to the plea.
There is also the uncertainty on whether it will be completely impossible to register after the deadline. This question is relevant since many people will still open bank accounts after the deadline. Based on what we have seen with mobile SIM card registration, it is reasonable to assume BVN enrolment will be an ongoing process. It is better to be on the safe side, though, by enrolling before the deadline.
Customers ought to be notified within 24 hours from registration that they have been enrolled on the BVN system. The reality is that this doesn’t happen many times, so you do not know if you have been successfully enrolled or not. And there is no way to confirm this, safe by asking possibly ‘uninformed’ customer care agents.
There is all you need to know about BVN and the enrolment process in Nigerian banks. If you haven’t obtained yours yet, you will do well to act fast!