Making BVN registration seamless for MFBs
Ahead of the July 31, 2017 deadline for Bank Verification Number (BVN) enrolment for customers of Microfinance Banks (MFBs), by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Bankers’ Committee deemed it necessary to remove the bottlenecks suffered by these micro institutions in achieving the set goal.
At the Committee meeting held recently in Lagos, the microfinance banks customers were directed to walk into any deposit money bank and register for BVN free of charge.
The directive followed a report that deposit money banks were charging some fees to get customers of microfinance banks register for BVN.
“We looked at one issue that will jeopardise the financial inclusion and anything that will stop more and more people from being included into formal financial sector, we will work jointly as banks to make sure that bottleneck is removed. One key issue that came up together was the issue of customers of microfinance banks who do not yet have BVN registered. Some feedback we got at the committee was that some banks charge such customers when they try to register BVN. The Bankers Committee decided today that microfinance banks customers can walk into any bank and register their BVN free of charge”, Nnamdi Okonkwo, managing director/CEO of Fidelity Bank plc who addressed the media on this said.
The CBN had in a circular dated April 21 2017 with reference number OFI/DIR/CIR/GEN/17/139 and signed by Tokunbo Martins, CBN Director in charge of Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department, gave the MFBs July 31, as deadline to enrol their customers for BVN.
The circular further warned that any account not linked with the BVN “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 said the directive was necessitated by 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.”
However, a large number of microfinance banks customers are yet to enrol for BVN as directed by the regulator. But Accion Microfinance Bank limited has registered over 40,000 of its customers for the BVN.
“Even before the CBN made the BVN mandatory, AMfB has started requesting BVN from all our customers, we partnered with top commercial banks to get them to enrol our customers for BVN and we linked up with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBBS) to ensure we can verify those BVN and as at today almost 40,000 of our customers already have BVN and we are extending that to all savings customer. We are on track regarding that”, Bunmi Lawson, managing director/CEO of Accion MfB said at the banks annual general meeting held recently in Lagos.
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