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Biometric banking requirement coming in Ghana, unmet by half of Nigerian accounts

Biometric banking requirement coming in Ghana, unmet by half of Nigerian accounts

From July 1, all banking and financial transactions in Ghana will be completed only upon presentation of the biometric ID known as the Ghana Card. Any other ID document shall not be accepted as a requirement for this purpose, according to a recent statement signed by the Secretary of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) Sandra Thompson, and published by My Joy Online.

The move to privilege the biometrics-backed ID credential, the BoG says, is intended to safeguard the security of the banking system, and is also in conformity with Regulation 7 of the National Identity Register, 2012 (L.I. 2111) which provides that as from July 1, 2022, the Ghana Card will be the only ID document accepted for financial operations at all institutions licensed and regulated by the BoG.

The institutions involved in this operation, according to the BoG, are banks, specialized deposit-taking institutions, non-deposit taking financial institutions, payment service providers and dedicated electronic money users, and forex bureaus and credit reference bureaus.

On measures aimed at making the process start off smoothly, the BoG has asked that all the concerned institutions take steps to update their customer records with their Ghana Card details.

“For KYC purposes, the National Identity Authority verification transaction platform will be integrated into the Bank of Ghana’s financial monitoring platform,” a portion of the statement reads. “This is to ensure that all financial transactions performed within the ecosystem are linked to one identity and information, and unique codes of the transactions shared with the Bank of Ghana to facilitate the identification of initiators/beneficiaries for track and trace purposes.”

The BoG also called on customers to update their records with their respective financial institutions using the Ghana Card.

“The public is to note that no other form of identification will be accepted for financial transactions in all Bank of Ghana regulated financial institutions after the effective date stated above,” the statement concludes.

More than 59M Nigerian bank accounts without bank ID

Meanwhile, in next door Nigeria, authorities of the country’s central bank say nearly 60 million accounts are yet to be linked to the bank ID, dubbed Bank Verification Number (BVN), like the Ghana Card includes biometric data.

Nairametrics reports, citing sources at the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), that as of January 16, the total number of bank accounts with BVNs was 52.1 million, meaning at least 59 million other accounts remain unidentifiable using the bank ID. The report indicates that there were 111.5 million bank accounts in the country as of May last year.

Nairametrics adds that observers have raised concerns about the slow pace of the bank ID adoption, saying some banking institutions probably still allow the creation of bank accounts without recourse to the prescribed biometric onboarding process.

The BVN was introduced in 2014 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a way of strengthening safety around bank accounts in the country. It is a unique number issued to an account holder during account creation to enable the verification of their account across the banking ecosystem.

Early last year, the CBN started an initiative to eventually replace the BVNs with digital ID numbers (NINs).

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