…Public enlightenment kicks off soon
In an exclusive telephone interview with Daily Sun, the spokesman of the CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, disclosed that with the machines being deployed to banks for customers’ enrollment, public roll out in Lagos would form the basis for taking the registration exercise to other parts of the country later in the year.
He explained that 42, of 48 bank branches for the roll out in the pilot phase, have been covered, adding that over 2,000 bank staffers have successfully enrolled in the scheme.
Okorafor said the commencement of the exercise for members of the public would begin with public enlightenment, just as the apex bank did during the cashless programme.
The scheme is coming up almost four months after the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, inaugurated the project. The biometric registration exercise is expected to lead to the issuance to all bank customers across the country, a uniform and unique identification number called Bank Verification Number (BVN). The BVN will help to prevent identify theft, fraud and enhance credit advancement to customers.
The Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System Plc is coordinating the project, sponsored by the Bankers Committee.
He said, “already, the project is ongoing in some bank branches. We are moving over 2,000 machines to the various banks; we will begin soon to roll out to members of the public, just as we did during the cashless programme. Also, we have successfully enrolled 2,000 bank staff.”
The CBN spokesperson had initially disclosed: “You know our people are not very educated; they are resistant to anything that has to do with money. However, what we intend to do is to start the public roll out here in Lagos with public enlightenment of customers, which has more of the bank branches.
“We are starting with at least 1,000 bank branches. After the enrolment of account holders, we will look at the challenges that are there, how to tackle those challenges and the wisdom we get from there will help us to begin to plan a roll out beyond Lagos.”
Okoroafor had said that a number of challenges confronting the banking sector, ranging from fraud to low level of literacy in the country, led to the emergence of the BVN project.
He pointed out that a significant number of people could not key into the centralbank’s cashless policy due to illiteracy. He, however, noted that the BVN would enable a bank customer to have a single identity within the financial system.
The CBN spokesperson explained: “What is important is the number; BVNs enable a single person to have a single identity within the financial system. We are out with the BVN to achieve a number of things – to ensure that customers’ identities are not stolen; people who cannot read or write could use their biometrics (fingerprint) to make transactions and enable banks to identify customers. The essence of the verification number is to ensure that your identity is not stolen.”