Enrolments for the Biometric Verification Number (BVN) by bank account owners in the country rose by 1.7 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 late October and December brought the total registration to 45.7 million as of December 27, 2020. As of October 18, 2020, NIBSS had put the total enrolment figure at 44 million.
This showed that a total of 1.7 million new registrations were recorded by the banks between October 19 and December 27. NIBSS data for 2019 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 to bring the total enrolment 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 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. 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 Employment, Festus Keyamo, 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 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 last 2019 announced the commencement of classification BVN 2.0 plan that allows both the rich and poor in rural areas to access financial services.
The 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.