Disturbed by the growing threat of fraud and other related crimes in the banking industry, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with commercial banks in the country Friday unveiled the biometric Bank Verification Number (BVN) for bank customers.
Speaking in Lagos at the launch of the solution, CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said the era of cybercrime and identity-related theft in the banking industry were over.
The central bank governor described the system as a major development that protects customers from cybercrime, identity theft, money laundering and credit defaults.
According to Sanusi, the issue of unique identity had been a problem in the banking industry over the years.
All bank customers are expected to have registered on the biometric system in the next 18 months according to the time-table of the bankersâ€™ committee.
Sanusi said: â€œImagine a situation whereby within a year and half, we have everybody on the system, if you commit fraud in Maiduguri and try to withdraw the money in Ibadan, it will pick you up.
â€œIf you committed a fraud in a bank and you are on the fraud data base, wherever you go and put up your finger, it will pick it up and people will know. â€œJust the fact that you know that if you commit fraud somewhere, you are not going to use a microfinance bank or a bank is enough to stop money laundering and other crimes.â€
Continuing, Sanusi said all bank customersâ€™ data would be under the custody of the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) where all commercial banks, microfinance banks and other financial institutions would have access to the information.
â€œThe central bank is going to issue a circular next week to officially inform banks of the commencement of the exercise and banks would also send notice to their customers and everybody would come and register.
â€œSo you can go to any bank or any agent and register and once you register and you are in the system, you canâ€™t register again. Banks are not charging customers anything for this,â€ he added.
To the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the biometric solution would stimulate banking transactions and also improve access to credit by customers.
The Zenith Bank boss explained: â€œWith this project we should be begin to see the opening up of consumer credit opportunities. We are saying that with this project people who want to buy cars, want to do mortgages with the kind of data that would be fed into the centralised system and it should be possible for you to access bank credit easily.
â€œBy extension we would see how it would affect productivity, in the economy. Given the opportunity that we have right now, where the customersâ€™ biometric is given, then it makes it comfortable for us to lend money to customers that want to buy car, we can lend money to farmer that need money to buy fertiliser, cobblers, barbers, or any form of business.â€
The Managing Director of Dermalog Identification Systems, the German company that was engaged to deploy and implement the biometric system, Mr. Gunther Mull said the platform would make life easier for banks and their customers.