Commercial banks in the country registered a total of 3.6 million new Biometric Verification Numbers (BVN) in the last eight months, New Telegraph has learnt.
According to the data released by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the number of bank customers that have registered for BVN rose to 49.3 million as of August 15, 2021. As of December 27, 2020, the figure of enrollment for the number stood at 45.7 million.
This showed that the database grew by 3.6 million between January and August this year. However, compared to last year’s record, registration for the number has been slow this year.
For most part of 2020, the BVN database grew by one million every two months.
While there was a slowdown in registration between February and May 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdown, figures of enrolment between May 10 and August 16 stood at 1.3 million.
However, data for the last four months of the year showed a rapid increase in the figure of new registrations as the enrolments increased by at least one million in two months.
Between August 17 and October 18, one million new registrations were recorded by the banks, this was surpassed in the October 19 to December 27 record as 1.7 million new registration were recorded.
According to NIBSS, BVN gives bank account owners a unique identity that can be verified across the Nigerian banking industry, while it ensures that customers’ bank accounts are protected from unauthorised access.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, NIBSS and the 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 2019, 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 will 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 are 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.