About 36.8 million bank accounts have been linked to the Bank Verification Number (BVN) as of February 17 this year.
This represents 51 per cent of the total number of active bank accounts, the Nigerian Interbank Settlement Scheme’s records have shown.
The number of active bank accounts, according to the NIBSS data, is 71.79 million.
BVN is a unique number for customers of banks in Nigeria, which contains biometric details of customers including the fingerprint of all ten fingers and facial image.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Bankers’ Committee and in collaboration with all banks in Nigeria launched a centralised biometric identification system for the banking industry in 2014.
The biometric identification was introduced to address identity theft, reduce exposure to fraud and enhance the banking industry’s chances of being able to fish out blacklisted customers, among others.
Analysis of the data showed that the total number of bank accounts as of the end of January 2019 was 118.9 million.
According to the data, about 25.97 million current accounts were opened by bank customers while savings accounts reached 89.67 million as of January this year.
The Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr Isaac Okoroafor, reportedly said the incidence of abandoned accounts had always been a feature of the Nigerian banking industry for many reasons.
He was quoted as saying, “A common reason is the cumbersome procedure of complete closure of an account. Many people in a hurry will withdraw to the last kobo possible and move on, abandoning the account for good.
“There is also the dearth and the absence of knowledge of a bona fide heir to the estate or poor documentation for inheritance. In most cases, abandoned accounts carry relatively low balances compared to active ones, signifying lack of interest to pursue them. The banks, however, welcome such developments because the funds represent no-cost flow and eventual profits.”
Meanwhile, it was reported that the CBN was planning to introduce a new mechanism, called the Global Standing Instruction (GSI), that would work with the BVN of depositors to detect bad borrowers who refuse to pay their loans but plans to take another loan from other unsuspecting banks.
Information obtained by our correspondent revealed that the regulator planned to introduce the mechanism this year.
The CBN said the GSI would bring out the credit history of any debtor who planned to borrow from any bank, and all Nigerian banks would be provided such information.
The mechanism, it was learnt, would make it impossible for any borrower to get another loan from another bank without first repaying all outstanding loans