57.96 million BVN issued as CBN threatens accounts closure

The total number of issued Bank Verification Numbers rose to 57.96 million as of July 3, 2023, according to data obtained from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc.

This was as the Central Bank of Nigeria planned to the close bank accounts without BVNs. According to the NIBSS, the increasing incidents of compromise on conventional security systems (password and PIN), had increased the demand for greater security for access to sensitive or personal information in the banking system.

It stated that in recent times, biometric technologies havd been used to analyse human characteristics as an enhanced form of authentication for real-time security processes.

It stated that BVN gave a unique identity that could be verified across the Nigerian banking industry (not peculiar to one bank), and ensured that customers bank accounts were protected from unauthorised access.

It said, “It will address issues of identity theft, thus reducing exposure to fraud. The BVN will enhance the banking industry’s chances of being able to fish out blacklisted customers.”

It noted that the BVN is an acceptable means of identification across all Nigerian Banks. Since launching in 2014, 57.96 million Nigerians have now got BVNs. Data from NIBSS indicated that there were 133.5 million as of December 2021.

According to the apex bank, BVN is part of its overall strategy of ensuring the effectiveness of the Know Your Customer principles, and the promotion of a safe, reliable, and efficient payments system.

As of December 26, 2021, there were 51.7 million BVNs. Recently, the CBN, through its Director, Risk Management Department, and Chief Risk Officer, Blaise Ijebor, noted that the CBN was working to remove accounts not linked to BVNs from the financial system.

According to him, this was to clean up the sector and reduce the growing incidence of fraud.

A recent report by FITC revealed that bank customers in Nigeria lost N472m to fraud in the first quarter of 2023. It noted that there was a total of 12,553 cases of fraud recorded within the three months.

Recently, the CBN said that it had placed 6,047 BVNs of bank customers under a watch list for fraudulent transactions. It stated that the number of BVN-linked accounts was 130.57 million out of 148.46 million active accounts.

It disclosed this in the CBN Financial Stability June 2022 report published in December 2022. It said, “The number of accounts linked with BVNs was 130,569,656 out of 148,462,947 active customer accounts, while the number of watch-listed BVNs associated with fraud and deceased persons stood at 6,047 and 11,871, respectively.”