Emefiele...happy with sector's stability
  • For robust financial inclusion

BY CHINYERE OBIORA, LAGOS – The Bankers’ Committee says it has commenced the classification of Bank Verification Number (BVN) that will enable the rich and poor in rural areas to readily access financial services .

This is even as the Committee disclosed that a presidential approval has been conferred on it with the powers to redevelop the National Arts Theatre as a national asset.

Dropping the hints at the end of the 11th Bankers’ Committee retreat in Ogere, Ogun State, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele said given the benefits of BVN to bank customers and the economy, there is a strong need to consolidate and move BVN to 2.0.

Emefiele said the plan is to classify BVN into two groups, namely: BVN Premium and BVN Lite, adding that this entails reclassifying and segregating transactions that could be done on BVN into two groups.

According to him, the BVN Premium will cover bank customers who are able to provide the 18 basic requirements for a complete BVN enrolment while the BVN Lite requires minimal documentations such as name and phone number for bank customers, especially those unable to meet the full requirements  in the rural areas

Emefiele said the plan is ensure grassroots customers, particularly the poor, conduct minimal financial services and reduce financial exclusion rate in the country.

He said the Bankers’ Committee has collaboration with the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) and Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) to ensure the project succeeds and more Nigerians are brought into the financial system. 

Offering further explanation, the CBN Governor said the BVN 2.0 classification scheme aims at bringing more people into the financial system and reducing the financial exclusion rate, adding that the Know Your Customer (KYC) scheme is part of what will be migrated into the BVN Lite. 

“However, there are people who are currently financially excluded, like people in our rural communities that carry phones, but not having financial services. With the collaboration of NCC, we are putting this BVN arrangement to allow them conduct minimal financial services”, Emefiele said 

On the way forward, the CBN Chief stated that; “It should be possible for us to migrate this people into the BVN lite arrangement where they can conduct minimal financial services, not just banking services, but minimal financial services, insurance and anything you want to conduct in terms of finance, e-payment, or anything, you can do it with the aid of your phone. Bringing them into financial system will help to increase the rate of financial inclusion and reduce exclusion rate.

“The existing BVN that we have in the system has about 18 lines of information. We decided that we classify into BVN premium and BVN lite. There should also be a system where people who are financially excluded can now be included. If you are on BVN lite there is a limit to the kind of transactions you can do in terms of deposit and in items of loans.”

The Governor stated that; “The important thing is that we want to make you financially included where you can conduct basic banking services. Our people in the rural communities who have BVN lite will later be migrated to the BVN premium when you meet all the requirements.”

On protecting and securing the banking sector, Emefiele said with cyber risk growing in worrying dimension globally, Money Deposit Banks (DMBs), the CBN, and government, must take urgent steps and measures to keep the financial system sfable and safe.

He therefore charged the banks to invest more money in tools, whether soft or hardware that will aid them contain cyber risks in their operational environment. 

“But of course on the part of the CBN, we have all along been issuing different guidelines and frameworks on how the banks can combat and how the industry and the country can combat the incidence of cyberattacks which in any case will continue but we just need to prepare that when they strike we are able to withstand the shock and we are able to discover it early enough for the banks not to lose money or for depositors funds not to be lost by a bank,” Emefiele said.

The apex bank Chief, who also commented on plans to refurbish the National Arts Theatre, said with its presidential mandate, the Bankers’ Committee will be committing about N25 billion to redevelop the edifice adding that the redevelopment plan will begin in January 2020.

“We are just trying to redevelop the National Theatre and build around it, these four hubs – IT, fashion, music and Nollywood – that would help create economic activities around the National Arts Theatre, and then present it as an opportunity to create jobs for people, particularly our units. We need to create economic activity that creates jobs for the people. 

“Let’s not forget, when you have an International Conference Centre, a place like the National Arts Theatre, it will benefit the economy. I attend the World Bank/IMF Meetings. Those meetings attract no less than 100,000 people. Hotel business, foreign exchange business, is boosted by that. We want Nigerians to work with us to see to the redevelopment of these assets for the interest of the country.”

He however cleared the air on the National Art Theatre’s  status, saying; “It is not being sold, the Federal Government has not reached a point where it said it is selling this asset,.”

The BVN scheme was introduced into the banking sector in 2014 by the CBN and has since capturef over 40 million bank customers. The apex bank said the intention and targets of the scheme is to take BVN-linked accounts to about 100 million in the next five years. 

It gives each bank customer a unique identification, and has continued to revolutionise the banking and payment systems while ensuring the safety and security of depositors’ funds nationwide.

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