Nigerian banks are supposed to start the biometric registration of customers today, in a bid to issue all of us an identification number called Bank Verification Number (BVN).  The BVN is a uniform and single identity that will be acceptable across the Nigerian financial system as all other bank accounts operated by any individual will be tied to that individual’s unique BVN.

The 3-month pilot phase of this project was completed on Monday,  and reportedly, 7,000 BVNs have been issued by 21 banks’ headquarters across 44 bank sites and the NIBSS to existing internal bank customers. The BVN deployment project will kick-off from 1000 bank branches located in Lagos and later spread to the rest of the country. Apparently, this is a phase of the three-tiered ‘know your customer’ and the cashless policy of the CBN.

So prepare your minds people. Big brother needs your basic biometric data information including your facial image, your 10 fingerprints as well as other unique features to facilitate security.

Not to sound blasé, but I’m with the people wondering how it would work.

Will the banks be asking us to come in to submit these details and rain unholy traffic on them, as if the queues are not long enough already? How secure will our data be, security has been Nigeria’s problem for a while? What other biometric information is available to measure these ones against? We have no existing biometric or finger print database. Will the registration process be as ‘efficient’ as the process of verifying our accounts?

NIBSS attempts to provide some answers to a Daily Independent Correspondent,  “Customers are expected to go to any branch of their bank, complete and submit the BVN enrollment form, present themselves for data capturing (such as fingerprint, facial image, among others). An acknowledgment slip with the transaction ID is issued to the customer, following which the system would issue the application within 24 hours, the BVN is generated, and the customer receives an SMS for pickup.”

The BVN, says the NIBSS, is to ensure accountability, check identity theft, reduce exposure to fraud, and enhance credit advancement to bank customers, protect bank customers’ account from unauthorised access and also encourage financial inclusion. As at Sunday evening, however, there were no indications of which branches in various areas of Lagos have been earmarked for the deployment today.


Photo Credit: Leszek.Leszczynski via Compfight cc

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