Home Editorial The Bank Verification Number initiative

The Bank Verification Number initiative

The ongoing Bank Verification Number (BVN) registration exercise is another attempt by the apex financial institution in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to st//**rengthen the banking system and must not only be embraced by all but also be supported to succeed.
The exercise, which started last year across the country requires all account holders to register their unique physical traits such as finger prints and facial features using biometric technology in any of their banks’ branches.
Once these features are recorded in one bank it covers all other banks and the data so captured is available nationwide for use in more accurately identifying people wherever they present themselves for bank transactions in the country.
Though the process has been misunderstood by some people and has even been exploited by unscrupulous elements to deceive and defraud some bank customers, the fact remains that if well implemented, the initiative promises to provide a solid platform for integrating and sanitizing operations of banks nationwide.
For instance, some fraudsters are capitalizing on the awareness campaign to beguile unsuspecting bank customers to release to them sensitive information online, which such fraudsters use to swindle their hapless victims.
As the campaign progresses, therefore, efforts must be made by relevant authorities including the security agencies, to ensure that bank customers are sufficiently warned against releasing their private and sensitive information to these dubious and faceless individuals, so as not to fall victims to the often ubiquitous fraudsters.
It must be made clear to all that the BVN process is free and is not done online. So people must refrain from responding to mails pretending to be from banks requiring them to released secret bank numbers and other personal information.
The BVN registration process involves people presenting themselves physically for the biometric data to be captured. It is thus fool proof as it is said that no two people on earth have the same biometric information.
Once the system is in place and operational, therefore, fraud in bank transactions will be drastically minimized and the banking system will be further strengthened and made more attractive to foreign investors and customers.
Also, the programme, if well implemented, would guarantee that anyone who falls foul of the banking laws in a particular bank and is blacklisted by that bank can easily be tracked down and isolated in other banks so as to be dealt with accordingly.
Incidents of people perpetrating financial crimes in one bank and migrating to other banks to use other names and addresses to continue to devastate the nation’s financial system will easily be brought under control, since with the biometric information captured, there will now be no hiding place for those who perpetrate financial crimes.
This system in our view, is indeed well conceived as it would help to address the issue of those who cannot read and write, whose primary means of identification up till now has been unverified fingerprints and pictures that can sometimes not be sufficient identification for serious bank transactions. The BVN will, thus, be the best answer for the identification of this class of banks’ customers.
Recent reforms in the banking sector have been salutary but the BVN, clearly, would throw a veritable safety net across the industry as evidence has shown that biometric data cannot easily be manipulated.
The level of efficiency in the nation’s financial system will also be enhanced while human error or inconsistency will almost totally be erased, once this programme which is expected to be completed by June this year is perfected.
The CBN and all the banks must ensure, however, that nothing goes wrong with this exercise and that what is commonly called the Nigerian factor is not allowed to rear its ugly head anywhere near the programme.
This is important because if there is a breach in the system, a programme that is so well conceived and that has so far progressed smoothly will suffer needless reverses.
There should be more efforts to sensitize the banking public on the need to spare the time needed for people’s biometric data to be captured, as doing so is a step towards better protection of the individual’s funds, strengthening the banking system generally and restoring full confidence in the nation’s financial system.

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