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BVN: CBN To Issue Guideline For Diaspora Customers

Posted: Jul 1, 2015 at 1:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

• Extends Deadline To October

By Joe Nwankwo, Abuja and Bamidele Ogunwusi, Lagos


Barely 12 hours after insisting it would not extend the deadline for bank customers to register and obtain the Bank Verification Number (BVN), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Tuesday, reversed itself, extending the deadline by four months to October 31, 2015.

The CBN in a circular to all deposit money banks on Tuesday said the decision was as a result of the hardship Nigerians are facing in their bid to get registered in the last two days as bank customers besieged bank branches to beat the deadline.

The circular signed by Dipo Fatokun, Director, Banking and Payment System Department, noted among others, “the need to give Nigerian banks’ customers in Diaspora, ample time to enrol on the programme.”

The statement said that a guideline for the enrolment of Nigerians in Diaspora is being finalised and would be released soon.

“In view of the foregoing, it has become imperative for the bank to extend the timeline for all bank customers to have the BVN. The deadline for enrolment is hereby extended from 30th June, 2105 to October 31, 2015. The extension is expected to facilitate a smooth completion of the registration exercise.

The BVN enrolment was launched in February 2014 by the then CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi with a timeline of 17 months, which ended on Tuesday.

The BVN, which is a brainchild of the Bankers Committee, comprising bank chief executives and top officials of the CBN, according Ade Shonubi, Managing Director of the Nigerian Inter Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), is meant to rid the country of fraudulent activities in the banking sector.

In an interview with Daily Independent recently, Shonubi said: “What we are implementing, which is very unique in almost all areas is to centralise handling of cards, electronic payments and PoS. Most of the solutions available elsewhere are mainly for cards but we have to modify it to allow transactions on other electronic payment platforms. It can create patterns and also highlight suspicious transfers and payments. This platform has gone live; it is currently being used and we are already seeing the benefits.

“Most of these frauds are more or less insider-related and with click of the computer, the money is gone. Is there no way to set a limit or threshold on the value of transactions allowed at a particular time?

“This is part of the area the Anti-Fraud initiative caters for. We agree there must be a limit, either in frequency or value, all transactions going through the Anti-Fraud Systems are tracked such that if it exceeds that frequency or limit, it is flagged.

“We are currently building rules now in collaboration with the banks, such that when the system receives transactions that are outside the agreed parameters, these transactions are blocked or flagged and the Banks are advised immediately. It is very difficult to say you want to eliminate fraud, but with all these being implemented, it is our expectation that fraud will be highly mitigated”.

In a statement issued before the CBN’s decision to extend the deadline, Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), condemned the CBN’s decision to subject Nigerian account holders to untold hardship because of the deadline unilaterally imposed on the BVN.

HURIWA called for the registration to be permanent and seamless rather than being undertaken in a military fashion.

The group said the introduction of this new rule without consultation with bank customers and the arbitrary decision to impose a deadline with consequences on how account holders can access their legitimate deposits is unconstitutional and amounts to abuse of authority even as the rights group has called on the CBN to make the registration open and continuous for the simple logic that new account holders would not stop opening accounts with banks on June 30, 2015.

The group said the imposition of deadline and restrictions on genuine account holders amounted to a deprivation of economic and social rights provided for and protected by both chapters two and four of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and must be rescinded forthwith.

Besides, HURIWA said it is very unfair and indeed amounted to attempt by the CBN and the elites that control the banks to rob from the back doors hard earned deposits of bank customers.

HURIWA had called for protests by affected bank customers to be led by likeminded civil society organizations on Thursday and also plan to open a public register for customers who are affected adversely by the deadline for the BVN registration to look at possibilities of filing class action suits at Federal High Courts to be argued by lawyers free of charge since majority of the bank customers to be deprived of their legitimate deposits are too poor to pay for hiring lawyers.