Sunday, 13 December 2015


The bank verification number is one of the CBN policies that got Nigerians on their toes. Though the program was launched on February 14th 2014, most Nigerians took the process serious when the first deadline (June 30th 2015) drew close. The population made CBN to extend the date to 31st October 2015. Customers besieged banking halls to enroll since it was learned that those who failed to be captured would lose access to their accounts.
Bank Verification Number (BVN) is a ten digit number given to a customer after their biometric details have been captured. To secure BVN, a customer’s portrait needs to be taken, their fingerprints captured and then their signature using a special pen and glass. The beauty of BVN is that it guards against identity theft and a customer’s details can be verified across all the banks in the country (not just the bank they enrolled with).

The benefits of the BVN cannot be over emphasized but there are still begging questions desirous of answers. A typical Nigerian is yet to understand how the process can guard them from fraudsters. Moreover, verifications are mostly required when huge transactions are involved. As online banking and marketing gains wider acceptance, swindlers are constantly gaining an edge over illiterate and ill exposed Nigerians.

Recently, I got a message with the title of the sender being "CBN". That caught my fancy. The message claimed that because of BVN my ATM has been blocked (and it has been blocked before so I took it serious) that I should call a certain number if I wish to unblock it. I called the number and the caller told me I had to verify I was the real owner of the card so I should answer some questions.

I said my name, my date of birth, called out my card number and the expiry date (well, I saw those as somewhat safe information to give out) it was when the caller told me to call out the three security numbers at the back of my card I figure it was fraudulent and ended the call. I was lucky by a bird’s hair; that close to getting my account emptied.

This is where I think BVN should be helpful to all Nigerians (and world over) to totally eradicate internet fraud of this sort. Since every customer’s details including fingerprint is already in a database, what if a new trading platform for online transactions is designed such that after filling in the card information, the customer still needs to thumbprint for the transaction to be carried out?

This will definitely end fraudsters from carrying out transaction for their victims. It doesn’t end there. What if we fast-track to a point where ATM has a provision for thumbprint too? It will bring to an end the era of criminals stealing and hacking people’s ATM cards (unless they’ll decide to take their victim’s thumb along).

These solutions may sound like hocus-pocus but I believe it will work (if the person in the right position to effect this change is reading this and thinks in tandem with me) and when it does work, customers will need to physically monitor their off-the-banking-hall transactions. I also believe this is the best way to secure an illiterate Nigerian from financial theft and justify the long hours they spent under harsh condition to get their BVN.