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BVN/NIN: Consumers express mixed reactions over CBN’s directive to banks

*The Central Bank of Nigeria says the latest directive to Deposit Money Banks on mandatory use of Bank Verification Numbers and National Identity Numbers for all bank transactions is to promote financial system stability and strengthen ‘Know Your Customer’ procedures in financial institutions in the country

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Consumers of financial products and services in the country’s payments ecosystem have expressed mixed reactions to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) directive mandating the use of Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) and National Identity Numbers (NINs) for all bank transactions effective from March 1, 2024.

The CBN, in a circular jointly signed by Chibuzo Efobi, Director of Payments System Management Department, and Haruna Mustafa, Director of Financial Policy and Regulation Department, has outlined the implementation of the new policy.

The Bank stated that effective immediately, no new Tier 1 accounts or wallets can be opened without BVN or NIN.

The circular also noted:

“For existing accounts without BVN or NIN, unfunded accounts will be placed on ‘Post No Debit or Credit’ until the requirements are met. “Starting March 1, 2024, all funded accounts without BVN or NIN will also be restricted from transactions.”

The circular said that all BVNs or NINs attached to bank accounts/wallets must be electronically revalidated by January 31, 2024,

According to the Bank, a BVN or NIN verification will be “conducted shortly.”

Rationale for BVN and NIN verification exercise

The CBN has emphasised the latest move is part of its efforts at promoting financial system stability and strengthening of the Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures in financial institutions in the West African country.

It further assured that it perform a  “comprehensive BVN and NIN audit shortly” and where breaches are identified, appropriate sanctions shall be applied.

“The process for account opening shall commence by electronically retrieving BVN or NIN-related information from the NIBSS’ BVN or NIMC’s NIN databases and for same to become the primary information for onboarding of new customers, and all existing customer accounts/wallets for individuals with validated BVN shall be profiled in the NIBSS’ ICAD immediately and within 24hrs of opening accounts/wallets,” the CBN stated.

Consumers of financial products and services speak

ConsumerConnect reports Nigerian consumers had taken to social media space to express their mixed reactions to the CBN directive on the use of BVN and NIN in financial transactions in the country.

In their diverse reactions on social media platform X (formerly Twitter),  Nigerians have wondered how anyone can have a bank account without BVN in Nigeria at this time.

“So they have so many accounts without no bvn before? This country na joke” Stanley Stanley Junior sai.

“Are there any banks that opens accounts without BVNs?” @EdogaSimon asked.

@MrFelixNnorom while venting about the directive, believes it is the new administration’s way of showing that they are ‘working’.

“How can an account even be active without BVN or NIN? Una don come with revalidation nonsense again! Why this madness every administration?” he tweeted.

Whereas others have said that it is the right step in the right direction to sanitise the country’s financial sector, especially the payments system ecosystem.

Diamond Swit @diamondswit16 is also worried about the effects of the directive on Nigerians in the Diaspora, who have bank accounts with the country.

Diamond stated: “And what will happen with the diaspora account? A lot of them don’t have bvn or nin number.

“What a country. Instead of fixing the system first, they’re making laws that will negatively affect the Nigerian people.”

However, some other Nigerians submitted that as the deadline for BVN and NIN registration approaches, Nigerians are encouraged to promptly link their BVNs and NINs to their bank accounts to avoid any disruptions to their financial transactions in view of the Bankers’ Bank’s directive to Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).

The CBN urged the banking public to utilise various BVN and NIN registration channels, including bank branches, mobile registration centres, and online platforms.

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