CBN extends BVN to micro-finance banks, gives deadline

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Heeding several calls by the Federal Government, Nigerians and experts in the financial institutions in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has extended the Bank Verification Number (BVN) exercise to microfinance banks.

This was disclosed in a circular dated April 21 with reference number OFI/DIR/CIR/GEN/17/139 and signed by the CBN Director in charge of Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department, Mrs Tokunbo Martins.

The apex bank gave July 31, 2017 as deadline for this exercise, warning that any account not linked with the BVN would be “shall not be allowed to make withdrawals.”

In the circular titled ‘Letter to all Other Financial Institution (OFIs): Bank Verification Number (BVN) enrolment for customers,’ the CBN explained that the move became necessary because of the “absence of a unique identifier in the Nigerian banking industry,” describing this as a “major challenge inhibiting the effectiveness of the Know Your Customer (KYC) principle.”

“To address this challenge and complement the existing means of identification of customers, which include: the Driver’s License; the International Passport; the National Identity Card; and the Permanent Voter’s Card; the CBN, in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, launched the Bank Verification Number (BVN) Project in February 2014.

“The BVN is expected to also minimize the incidence of fraud and money laundering in the financial system, as well as enhance financial inclusion.

In the circular, the banking industry watchdog said OFIs are required to enrol their customers on or before July 31, 2017; conspicuously display notices sensitizing customers on BVN in the banking hall; ensure that all new customers have BVN; and forward to the Director, Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department schedule of customer accounts with BVN on August 7, 2017.

“Effective August 1, 2017, all customers without BVN linked to their account shall not be allowed to make withdrawals from those accounts,” Mrs Martins said.

She emphasised that the CBN “will monitor compliance with the requirements of this circular, and defaulters will be appropriately sanctioned,” warning them to be “guided accordingly.”

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