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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has asked all financial institutions including banks to freeze accounts without the Bank Verification Number (BVN) or National Identity Number (NIN) by March 1, 2024 in reaffirmation of its April 2023 directive.

RELATED: CBN to close millions of bank accounts not linked to BVN

The main “objective is to clean up the sector and reduce the growing incidence of fraud, the apex bank and financial regulator had stated last April. All Tier-1 bank accounts and wallets for individuals must have either the BVN or NIN or both. Funded accounts or wallets without BVN or NIN shall be placed on “Post No Debit or Credit” and no further transactions permitted after the March 2024 deadline.

New circular reaffirms plans

In a circular dated December 1, 2023, signed jointly by the CBN Director, Payments System Management Department, Chibuzo Efobi and Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Haruna Mustafa, the CBN said “BVN or NIN attached to and/or associated with all accounts or wallets must be electronically revalidated by January 31, 2024.”

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The circular was addressed to all commercial, merchant, non-interest and payment service banks; as well as Other Financial Institutions (OFIs), and mobile money operators.

NIN and BVN

The BVN is a biometric technology with secure unique identifier to analyze human characteristics as an enhanced form of authentication for real-time banking or other transactions. The BVN offers the verification and validation of the customers’ identity seamlessly across multiple and interoperable electronic platforms.

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The NIN is designed for citizens’ registration as part of government’s national strategy to build database on all citizens for enhanced economic planning. It consists of 11 non- intelligible numbers randomly chosen and assigned to an individual at the completion of enrolment into the National Identity Database (NIDB) managed by the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC).

As at April 9, 2023, the BVN count was 57,093,825 and grew to 58.7 million as of September 12, 2023 according to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS). About 38 million accounts were linked with the BVN as at July 2019 indicating less than a 20 million increase in five years while the CBN had originally targeted to hit 100 million BVN-linked accounts in the next five years or 2024.

Highlights

The circular underlined the revised Section 1.5.3 of the Regulatory Framework for Bank Verification Number (BVN) Operations and Watch-List for the Nigerian Banking Industry (The Guidelines).

  • All existing customer accounts or wallets for individuals with validated BVN shall be profiled in the NIBSS Industry Customer Account Database (ICAD) immediately and within 24 hours of opening accounts/wallets.
  • 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.
  • The circular restated that it remained mandatory for Tiers 2 and 3 accounts and wallets for Individual accounts to have BVN and NIN.

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