Only 57.4 million Nigerians currently have Bank Verification Number (BVN), according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The BVN was introduced as a means to uniquely identify customers of Nigerian banks, reduce fraud, and improve the efficiency of banking operations in the country.
Since its introduction, the BVN has become an important requirement for opening and maintaining bank accounts in Nigeria.
Also, the apex bank said 7,500 BVNs have been watchlisted for alleged fraudulent transactions.
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele made this disclosure in Calabar at the 34th seminar for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors.
Emefiele, who was represented by the Director Monetary Policy Department of the CBN, Dr Hassan Mahmoud, said: “With a total enrollment of 57,431,355 as at 31st March 2023, the BVN is supporting the development of credit profiles for banking customers, which will assist in improving access to credit for credit-worthy borrowers by banks.”
Emefiele stated that BVN has continued to feature in the bank’s Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements as part of plans to ease the constraint associated with poor identification of banking customers.
The CBN, he said, will “continued to support the aggressive enrollment of prospective banking customers in the informal sector onto the BVN system”.
Emefiele added that the Payments System Vision (PSV) 2025 was introduced “to expand payment options available to customers and strengthen regulation of the payments system”.
Speaking more about payments system, the CBN governor noted that the apex bank now uses “payments system as a tool to achieve the financial inclusion goals of the country”.
To this end, the CBN governor revealed that “while the use of cash and cheques continued to diminish, web-based transactions such as POS, NIP, ATM and MMO have increased substantially”.
“For instance, between 2012 and 2017, the volume of transactions via electronic channels such as ATM, POS, WEB, MMO and NIP increased by 99.76, 1,775.72, 35,502.58, 2,413.44 and 836.50 percent, respectively” Emefiele said.
With regards to the eNaira initiative, the CBN governor stated that the eNaira was developed and launched in 2021 “to broaden the payment possibilities of Nigerians, foster digital financial inclusion, with potential for fast-tracking intergovernmental and social transfers”.
Since its launch, the CBN has continued to modify its features to make it more accessible to a wide range of users.
According to Emefiele, “over 1.4million transactions have passed through the eNaira platform and one does not need a smartphone to use the eNaira as it has become compatible with all generations of mobile devices (old and new).
The suite of initiatives like, Open banking; Regulatory Sandbox; Cardless and other contactless payment options he said have helped to open a vista of new opportunities in the payment ecosystem.
“With these revolutionary technological developments, the market has witnessed the deployment of new payment solutions” Emefiele said.
“Artificial intelligence, quantum computing and contactless payments are some of the areas creating new opportunities for operators” he added.
It has not been all rosy for the CBN with regards to payments system development.
Emefiele lamented that the CBN has faced some challenges in implementing these initiatives. Some of the challenges are: Weak social infrastructure occasioned by telecommunication networks and power infrastructure that are not optimal in Nigeria, thus, impacting the stability and resilience of the payments system.
The activities of unlicensed entities he said “have continued to exploit access to information technology to engage in regulated activities without the appropriate licenses and authorisation.
There is also the challenge of cyber threats and fraud. Emefiele expressed concern that “the activities of fraudsters continue to threaten the resilience of the payment platforms”.
“The confidence of the public is impacted by these activities. However, the collaborative effort between the Central Bank of Nigeria and other players in the industry is helping to curtail the nefarious activities of these fraudsters” he assured.