BVN registration: Will Nigerians beat October deadline?

Nigeria’s bank verification exercise, scheduled to end in October, is yet to capture the total number of banked adults in the country. So far, only 20 million Nigerians have registered out of 33.9 million banked adults.

The initial June deadline caused panic and long queues in banks across Nigeria. This was as a result of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s warning that people who did not register for their Bank Verification Number (BVN) would not be able to withdraw from their accounts after the deadline.

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What banks looked like during the initial deadline of June 2015

The BVN is an initiative of the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee, an umbrella body comprising the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and Discount Houses, launched on February 14, 2014. It is a unique identifier for each bank customer across the financial industry, making it possible to build and track customer financial history and activity.

Progress on the BVN registration exercise

On Sunday, Nigeria Inter Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) announced that it is collaborating with telecommunication companies to allow Nigerians to know the status of their registration. Currently, only Etisalat and Airtel Nigeria will be rendering the service while other companies are expected to join.

In a bid to capture every Nigerian account holder in the exercise, the Central Bank of Nigeria set up BVN registration centres in the diaspora. Customers in the diaspora will be charged N11,000 for the service rendered.

As of June 2015, UBA was the only bank, which made headway with the registration of customers. They ensured that people who came to the bank for transactions did their verification before leaving. First Bank, GT Bank and Diamond Bank were also reported to be making headways with the exercise, while no registration was recorded with Unity Bank Enterprise (now acquired by Heritage) Bank and Wema Bank.

The question that needs to be answered by the CBN and Bankers committee is, will the remaining unregistered 13.9 million people be captured by October 31, 2015 or should Nigerians expect a new deadline?

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