BVN/NIN Linkage and the Call from PoS Operators to CBN

Their primary concerns are about the possibility that some customers won't follow the instructions on time. They think that many of them will wait until the last minute to update and regularize their accounts.

Economic stakeholders are advocating for the Central Bank of Nigeria to consider extending the deadline for implementing its recent directives to banks, requiring customers to link their bank verification number (BVN) and national identification number (NIN) to their bank accounts.

Their concerns center around the potential delay by some customers in adhering to the directive, fearing that many might wait until the deadline approaches before rushing to their banks to update and regularize their accounts.

The CBN’s directive to link BVN and NIN to bank accounts is part of a broader effort to strengthen financial security and combat fraudulent activities. The BVN was introduced as a biometric identification system to curb identity theft and enhance the integrity of the banking system. The recent push to link it with the NIN aligns with the government’s aim to create a unified identity management system.

While the intentions behind the directive are commendable, the implementation has presented challenges for customers. The timeframe given for compliance is notably short, and many customers are finding it difficult to navigate the processes of linking their BVN and NIN within the stipulated period. This has led to concerns about financial exclusion, as individuals who are unable to meet the deadline may face restrictions on their banking services.

Point-of-sale operators play a crucial role in the Nigerian financial ecosystem. They facilitate digital transactions and are often the first point of contact for many individuals who rely on electronic payment methods. PoS operators, recognizing the potential disruptions to financial services, are calling for an extension of the deadline to allow for a smoother transition and greater compliance.

The call for an extension stems from the banking regulator’s instruction to banks to restrict services for customers who haven’t linked their BVN and NIN.

The CBN, in a circular issued on Friday, directed all commercial banks to bar customers without BVN and NIN from having access to their accounts from March 1, 2024, by putting a ‘Post No Debit or Credit’ restriction on such accounts.

In an interview on the circular, the newly-elected national president of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, Sarafadeen Fasasi, said the implementation of the directive, as well as the time attached to it, would cause unnecessary hardship on bank customers.

He said, “We agree that all bank accounts must have the minimum KYC; however, our challenge is the urgency of the implementation, and that has always been our own challenge with the Central Bank of Nigeria. We think the issue of KYC shouldn’t be an issue that should generate so much controversy, and it should be gradual. It should not be an emergency. “

Fasasi urged the CBN “to meet with stakeholders and solve all the access issues so that we can spread this over a year for customers to regularise. You don’t need to freeze their accounts; you only need to instruct your service providers that they should link the NIN to their database.

“Retrieve their customers’ NINs from NIMC, retrieve their BVNs from NIBSS, and marry the two. You don’t need to inflict punishment on the masses of the people.”

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