BVN-linked Bank Accounts Hit 37.2 Million

The number of BVN-linked bank accounts in Nigeria rose to 37.2 million as at March 24, 2019 Trendingaccounting has learnt. This showed that about 400 accounts were linked in the last one month as the figure stood at 36.8 million last February.

However, based on the number of active bank accounts in the country, which was 73.5 million in February, about 36.3 million accounts are yet to be linked five years after the introduction of the banking security measure.

Bank Verification Number (BVN) is a unique number for customers of banks in Nigeria, which contains biometric details of customers, including the fingerprint of all 10 fingers and facial image. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through the Bankers’ Committee and in collaboration with all banks in Nigeria, launched a centralised biometric identification system for the banking industry in 2014.

The biometric identification was introduced to address identity theft, reduce exposure to fraud and enhance the banking industry’s chances of being able to fish out blacklisted customers, among others.

According to NIBSS, the total number of bank accounts opened by Nigerians, which stood at 118.1 million as at the end of last December, inched up to 118.9 million in January and rose to 120.1 million in February.

Further breakdown of the data indicates that the number of active bank accounts also increased during the period, as they grew from 71.2 million last December to 71.7 million in January and 73.5 million last month. The data also reveals steady growth in the total number of current accounts during the review period as these increased from 25.7 million in December 2018 to 25.9 million in January and 28.4 million in February.

According to an email sent by a Tier 1 lender to its customers last week, the planned restriction on corporate accounts without requisite BVN details of all their directors and signatories is in compliance with a directive issued by CBN to lenders that all customers’ accounts should have the BVN details of all signatories, directors, as well as beneficial owners, linked to their respective non-individual accounts.

The bank’s email reads in part: “Kindly note that in order to avoid sanctions on the bank from CBN and disruptions in the operations of your account(s), the required information are to be provided on or before April 30, 2019, to enable us link same to your account(s) with us.”

CBN had, in a letter to DMBs, dated February 1, 2019, noted that DMBs were not fully complying with its regulations on Anti- Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), which requires all financial Institutions and Designated Non-Financial Institutions to identify directors, all signatories and beneficial owners of accounts. Consequently, the apex bank directed all financial institutions to ensure: “All customers’ accounts should have the BVN details of all signatories, directors and beneficial owners linked to their respective non-individual accounts.

“This is also mandatory for Non-Resident Non-Nigeria Directors (NRNND) of corporate accounts as the enrolment of Nigerian banks’ customers in diaspora for Bank Verification Number (BVN) issuance is still on-going in the 18 enrolment centres situated in different locations across the globe. “Any non-individual account that does not have the BVN details of all signatories, directors and beneficial owners linked is deemed to have inadequate Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements.”

Reminding DMBs that a circular on Uniform is deemed Account Opening Forms and the Minimum Information Requirement for Three-Tiered KYC for Customers, which it issued to them in February 2014, had stipulated that prospective and existing customers must provide BVN details of all directors and beneficial owners, the regulator directed financial institutions to intensify efforts to sensitize their customers to the issue and ensure that all accounts are BVN-linked on or before April 30, 2019.