Angst over fate of Diasporans as BVN deadline nears



Tensions may have been mounting among Nigerians in Diaspora over the fate of their accounts in the nation’s Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), with the impending implementation of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) rule by July 1.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through the Bankers’ Committee and Nigeria Interbank-Settlement System (NIBSS) initiated the BVN project, whereby a centralised biometric identification system would serve the industry as a whole, but first captured by individual banks.

The project has been described as a “silver bullet” to taming the multifaceted banking frauds in the country, as it sought to identify a customer based on physiological or behavioural attributes like fingerprint, facial features, signature and unique number, which would be accepted as a means of identification across the industry.

Under the current directive to banks to embark on the biometric project by CBN, account holders that failed to register by the end of June would be “switched” to serial transactional hitches.

However, Nigerians in Diaspora who have accounts in the country have been identified as the worst hit by the rule, as circumstances and cost related issue may beset their efforts to present themselves physically for the exercise.

Already, aware of the difficulties the group would have in complying with the scheme, indications emerged that NIBSS has dispatched a proposal to CBN on measures that would ensure that the group’s interests are safeguarded.

The NIBSS officials however, declined to state the details of the proposals sent to CBN over the fate of the Diasporans, as well as pre-empting the outcome of the proposal and timeline for apex bank’s response, but assured The Guardian of high optimism of the high scheme’s success.

But the Director of Banking and Payment System Department, CBN, ‘Dipo Fatokun, said the level of support and solutions expected from the implementation of BVN with respect to frauds in the banking system, made the registration compliance imperative.

“By the end of June 2015, any bank customer without BVN is more like an account holder without house address and photograph and this is as good as not having any account with banks.

“The implications are that the customers would lose access to the accounts, pending the time they would register. This means that they would not be qualified for any loan facility, their cheques would not be honored and they cannot cash cheque in their favour.

“This is a project scripted to check identity theft and fraudulent transactions. It will cut across the over-the-counter, Automated Teller Machine and Internet banking transactions, as all these channels would be configured to request the BVN before the transactions can be completed,” he said.

The Managing Director of Cowry Asset Management Limited, Johnson Chukwu, said the issue of Diasporans not being registered by now, should have been sorted out, not just by the regulator, but also by proactive banks, who are the direct beneficiaries of the relationship.

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