•Database swells to 44m
Enrolments for the Biometric Verification Number (BVN) by bank account owners in the country rose by one million in the last two months, New Telegraph has learnt. According to the data released by the Nigeria Inter- Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the new enrolments recorded between mid-August and mid-October brought the total registration to 44 million as of October 18. As of August 16, 2020, NIBSS had put the total enrolment figure at 43 million, which showed one million new registrations were recorded by the banks between August 17 and October 18.
NIBSS data for last year showed that the enrolments had increased averagely by one million every three months. For instance, while the BVN figure stood at 36.4 million at the end of 2018, it increased to 37.4 million at the end of March 2019.
By June 2019, over 900,000 were added, bringing the total enrolments figure to 38.3 million. In the third quarter of 2019, BVN enrolments increased by 1.1 million to 39.4 million at the end of September and by December, another one million registrations were recorded, bringing the total enrolment to 40.4 million at the end of 2019. While there was a slowdown in registration between February and May this year, due to the COVID- 19 lockdown, figures enrolment between May 10 and August 16 stood at 1.3 million.
However, the last two months’ data showed a rapid increase in the figure of new registrations as the banks recorded the usual one million increase within a shorter period. Industry analysts said the recent increase may not be unconnected with series of government schemes aiming at empowering the people, for which BVN numbers are required. For instance, the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Kenyamo, recently announced that six Nigerian banks had been engaged to commence account opening with BVN for the 774,000 participants of the Special Public Works Programme in their branches, through-out the 774 local governments. Similarly, several other schemes of the government targeting SMEs requires them to supply their BVN for disbursement of funds.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, NIBSS, and a German firm, Dermalog, launched the $50 million BVN project on February 14, 2014, with the aim of capturing biometrics of all bank customers and giving them a unique identity that can be verified across the Nigerian banking industry. The project is also aimed at deepening financial inclusion in the country.
To have many more Nigerians on the BVN database, the CBN had in December last year announced the commencement of classification BVN 2.0 plan that allows both the rich and poor in rural areas to access financial services. CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who broke the news at the end of the 11th Bankers’ Committee retreat in Ogere, Ogun State, explained that BVN would now be classified into two – BVN Premium and BVN Lite. According to him, while the BVN Premium covers customers that can provide the 18 basic requirements for a complete BVN enrolment, the BVN Lite requires minimal documentations like name and phone number for bank customers, especially those in the rural areas that do not meet the full requirements.
The initiative, which is in collaboration with the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) and Mobile Money Operators (MMOs), would ensure more Nigerians brought into the financial system. “The BVN 2.0 classification scheme will help bring more people into the financial system and reduce the financial exclusion rate,” the CBN governor had said. “Know Your Customer (KYC) scheme is part of what will be migrated into the BVN Lite.
However, some people are currently financially excluded, like people in our rural communities that carry phones but not having financial services. With the collaboration of NCC, we are putting this BVN arrangement to allow them to conduct minimal financial services.
“It should be possible for us to migrate these people into the BVN lite arrangement where they can conduct minimal financial services, not just banking services, but minimal financial services, insurance and anything you want to conduct in terms of finance, e-payment, or anything, you can do it with the aid of your phone. Bringing them into the financial system will help to increase the rate of financial inclusion and reduce exclusion rate,” Emefiele added.