THE deadline for customers of Microfinance Banks (MfBs) and Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) without Bank Verification Number (BVN) linked to their accounts has elapsed today, January 1,2018.
If the directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) earlier in the year is anything to go by, such customers will be unable to make withdrawals from their accounts henceforth.
The BVN enrolment is a brainchild of the apex bank and the Bankers’ Committee, a body of banks’ managing directors and the CBN.
This is coming as the initial deadline set for July 31, this year was extended. The new directive indicated that by December 31, 2017, all customers of financial institutions operating in the country are expected to have had their BVN.
The CBN, again, assured Nigerians that the BVN is geared towards financial system stability, while ensuring Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) customers are identified and known, so as to prevent those that will use the banking system as a platform to carryout illegal activities.
The CBN had in November written a letter to the Deposit Money Banks in the country, asking them to submit list of customers and bank accounts without bank verification number.
The letter came after a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the CBN and 19 banks to freeze accounts without the BVN and got an interim order seeking the forfeiture of deposits in the accounts without theBVN, among others.
Government has said that there were about 45 million accounts in the banking sector withoutBVN as at February this year. According to the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), there were 97.57 million accounts in the banking system as at February, 2017, with only 51.72 million of them having BVN. The BVN was introduced in 2014 to ensure that all bank accounts have biometric identification of their owners.
There is raging debate on the legality or otherwise of the planned forfeiture of funds in such accounts without BVN.