The Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday inaugurated the biometric registration of bank customers and declared that after 18 months of the exercise, bank customers would not be able to do any transaction without their fingerprints.
The Governor, CBN, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, who launched the biometric registration exercise at the CBN head office in Lagos on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee, said the development represented a milestone in the nation’s financial system and economy in general.
He said the new biometric registration which will lead to the issuing of Bank Verification Number, a unique identity for every bank customer, would help to mitigate fraud, money laundering and other vices in the country.
“We have launched the Bank Verification Number today, the timetable suggests that within 18 months, every customer would have been registered. This is a day that we would remember for many reasons, not for where we are but where we are likely to get from here. Nobody can steal this identity except he or she steals my fingers. After the deadline, if you don’t register, you cannot do any transaction with the bank,” Sanusi said.
The CBN governor said, “This is a major development that protects you from fraud, fights money laundering, cyber crime and fraud. It is a unique customer identity. With this, you have your data. Every Nigerian bank has access to the data. Every microfinance bank has access to the data. Every financial institution has access to the data.
“The CBN will issue a circular next week that will basically inform customers that this has now started. As soon as a bank gets the circular, the branches will issue notice to customers to find time to come in once and register. You can register anywhere actually. You can go to any bank or agent to register. Once you register, you cannot register again.”
According to Sanusi, the biometric registration exercise will help bank customers such that they may not need to use many ATM cards any more.
He said the CBN was working with NIGCOMSAT to put internet in all the 774 local governments in the country to enable the revolution to go nationwide.
Sanusi said, “What the banks are going to do is try to put all the information on your existing ATM card. If you have a First Bank or Zenith Bank ATM Visa card or MasterCard, they can put on your Bank Verification Number, and put your biometric on it. So you don’t need to carry two or three cards; so all is going to be on one card. So you use it for identification, and you use it for transaction, and everything will be there.”
He added, “With this, if you commit a fraud in Maiduguri and you try to withdraw the money in Ibadan, this new unique ID system will pick you up because it is a unique ID with a single database for all the banks.
“Just the fact that you know that if you committed a crime, you will never get to use a bank or a MFBs is enough to stop that fraud. The same thing with money laundering or any other crime. It is up to bank customers to register.”