In an effort to further strengthen the banking industry in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in February introduced the Bank Verification Number (BVN). This is a very important step by the CBN to re-emphasize the cashless policy which Nigerians seem slow to understand. The exercise, which will be rounded off by June 30th, 2015 was introduced to protect the banking interests of Nigerians among other things. Failure to get your BVN may be detrimental except for those who will resort to home savings and adopt a “cashful” policy.
Listed below are 15 important points you should know about the BVN exercise so you are not left in the dark:
1.The BVN project was launched in February 2015 and is mandatory for all Nigerian bank customers, whether existing or intending. It is so important that even bank customers who are abroad are advised to return to the country and enroll with their banks before the deadline.
2. From March 2015, only customers with the BVN will be allowed to carry out transactions valued at N100 million and above.
3. By the 30th of June 2015 (when the window elapses), any bank customer without the BVN would be deemed illegible to perform any bank transaction and any bank that allows such customer would be heavily sanctioned.
4. The BVN gives the customer a unique identity across all the banks in the country which can be used for easy identification and verification.
5. The enrollment process is very simple. Just walk up to the bank were you have an account or intend to open one. Your finger prints and facial features will be captured through biometric technology and you will fill and submit the BVN enrollment form which will be given to you at the bank. Your BVN will be generated in 24 hours and sent to you via SMS or e-mail.
6. The BVN cannot be gotten online. The best way of getting it is through direct contact with your bank as stated above. Some criminal elements may try to suggest seemingly easier enrollment options online and threaten that your account would be closed if you do not provide them the details. Do not give in to their schemes! if you do, they will control the access to your bank accounts.
7. After your enrollment, a BVN identification card with a computer chip bearing your embedded personal information will be given to you for collection at your designated bank branch.
8. Incase a customer forgets or misplaces his/her BVN, such customer can get it back by reporting to his/her bank where the enrollment was done for retrieval.
9. The BVN does not change. It remains the same for life but it expires after 10 years. The customer should go back to his/her bank to re-enroll after every 10 years which means the next enrollment will be done in 2025.
10. The BVN reduces the tendency of fraudulent practices. It has been realized that PINs and passwords are easily hacked and manipulated so the major objective of the BVN is to uniquely verify and protect the identity of each bank customer, reduce fraud and strengthen the Nigerian banking system.
11. The BVN also protects the banks. The tendency for loan defaulters, for instance, to move from one bank to the other in order to extend their credits knowing that the bank does not know their history with other banks will be curtailed as banks would be able to track transactions across all banks in Nigeria with more ease.
12. It is helpful for the elderly or semi-illiterates who “fight” with tellers over irregularities in their signatures. Their finger prints and pictures would serve the same purpose as signatures.
13. Registration in one bank covers all accounts the individual might have in all other banks. Once a customer is enrolled at one bank and a BVN is generated, the customer only has to take the BVN to the other banks where he/she has accounts to link the accounts. As for a corporate account, the persons who are signatories to the account will enroll individually and their individual BVNs would then be linked to the corporate account by the bank. There is no “corporate enrollment” for corporate accounts.
14. The BVN project is a strategy that will ensure that Nigeria becomes one of the top 20 largest economies in the world by 2020 which is part of the financial inclusion policy of the Financial Sector Strategy (FSS) programme.
15. And lastly, it is absolutely FREE!