Nigeria’s Central bank extends biometric identification deadline

July 12, 2015 - 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has implemented a four-month extension to the Bank Verification Number (BVN) program, giving Nigerians until October 31st to enroll.

The CBN and the bankers’ committee had previously set a June 30th deadline for enrollment in the biometric identification program, but as the deadline approached, it became clear that the extension was needed in order to give more banking customers an opportunity to participate in the enrolment exercise.

The BVN registration process involves the capturing of an individual’s basic biometric data, including the facial image, the two thumbs and index fingerprints as well as other unique features.

The individual can then use their BVN to verify their identity at their bank, at which point, they will be given a permanent unique number which will be synchronized for other banking transactions.

According to a report by Uncova, many Nigerians have become increasingly displeased with the number of identification documents they are required to carry, which includes an international passport, Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), Driver’s licence, National Identity card, Tax clearance card, and now, the Bank Verification Number (BVN).

“With the cost implication of all these, Nigerians cannot but wonder why should issuing means of identification by numerous agencies be the top agenda?” writes Olabisi Olaleye in the Unvoca report. “Why should these government agencies dissipate efforts in multiple data capturing exercises, all in the name of issuing an identity card, and end up wasting the nation’s scarce resources.”

Additionally, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has set a September 1, 2015 deadline, in which all transactions that require the identification of individuals must be performed using the National Identification Number (NIN).

The organization urged Nigerians to enroll into the national identity database, and starting two years ago, it began a campaign to raise awareness.

In recent newspaper advertisements between April 27 and May 4, 2015, the NIMC reminded the public of how the use of a National Identification Number (NIN) will become a mandatory practice as of September 1st for all transactions offered by applicable government institutions.

These transactions include applying for an international passport; opening a bank account; authorizing all consumer credits; purchasing an insurance policy; purchasing, transferring and registering land; National Health Insurance Scheme, such performing transactions that have social security implications, voter registration, paying taxes and pensions.

“Consequently, any government agency/institution, bank, insurance company and all other institutions offering services and/or involved in transactions requiring the identity of an individual must first demand for the NIN,” said Hadiza Dagabana, GM of the NIMC’s inspectorate, regulatory and compliance services. “Any individual, institutions/body who fails to comply with the above has committed an offence punishable under section 28 of the NIMC Act.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s anti-identity theft efforts are attracting more banks to roll out consumer banking in the country, said Citibank.

“More banks are rolling out consumer banking in Nigeria because individuals dealing with banks in Africa’s biggest economy are increasingly “who they say they are,” Citibank Nigeria Ltd CEO Akinsowon Dawodu told Bloomberg.

In the past, Nigeria’s lack of security measures regarding identification has prevented many banks from expanding their personal banking services in the country, said Dawodu.

Nigeria’s central bank partnered with commercial lenders in February 2014 to launch the BVN system, which requires customers to provide fingerprint identification before performing a transaction.

Banking customers now have until October 31, 2015 to register and receive a bank verification number, and all those who fail to comply will lose access to their accounts.

In June 2013, the central bank said that the absence of a unique identifier had negatively impacted growth in credit cards and credit-related products. The bank said the BVN system is designed to fight cybercrime and identity theft.

Previously reported, Nigeria’s Kaduna State government recently began a biometric verification pilot for all civil servants in its employment in an effort to provide the government with an accurate record of its personnel numbers, as well as a means of cleaning up its payroll.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.