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Banks Lock In Funds Of Customers Without BVNs

Commercial banks in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and Lagos, on Monday, complied with Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) directive to restrict all accounts without a Bank Verification Number (BVN) from October 31, 2015.
This is even as the CBN said it has extended the BVN registration deadline till January 31, 2016 for Nigerian Bank customers in Diaspora.
Officials of some commercial banks told our correspondents that all accounts without BVNs had been frozen for debit bank transactions.
Some of the banks visited in Garki, Abuja, were United Bank for Africa, Diamond bank, First Bank of Nigeria Plc., Guarantee Trust bank (GTB), Zenith Bank and Ecobank.
An official of First Bank, who preferred anonymity, said as at November 1, all accounts in the bank without BVN had been frozen.
“At the moment, any customer whose account is frozen cannot make use of any bank services, even the ATM cards will not function,’’ he said.
A customer with GTB, Mr. Gabriel Ajonye, said he had done his BVN registration in another bank after which he received a message from GTB that he could update his BVN online.
Ajonye said, “I went to the GTB link online as directed and submitted my BVN because it was convenient after which I was told the update was successful. I later received a message from GTB informing me that my bank account has been frozen that is why I have come to rectify the issue in the bank,’’ he said.
Also, in an interview with our correspondents in Lagos, some affected customers reacted. One of them, Mr. Ajiboye Tunde, a customer with Sterling Bank, said he could not beat the deadline because the mother was sick.
Another customer of the bank, Temitope Adeoye, said she had problem with her family and therefore did not have time to register for the BVN.
A customer who wanted to anonymous said: “I had an accident last year when the BVN started. I was hospitalized for six months and before the accident I was not able to register for the BVN because of the nature of my work. I do close late. But following the restriction of transaction, I came in today (Monday) to register so that I could be able to withdraw.”
Another customer who craved for anonymity said: “I have two bank accounts I am operating and I have done my BVN with one of them (Ecobank) but I could not withdraw from my UBA account. I was asked to link the two accounts so that I could have access to both accounts and that is why I am here today.”
In a message to customers tilted “Your BVN is Your Key,” Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank) said: “In line with the CBN’s directive that all accounts without BVN belonging to customers resident in Nigeria should be restricted from debit transactions, please note that this category of GTBank accounts without BVNs have been restricted from debit transactions effective Sunday November 1, 2015.”
The bank added that this means that accounts without BVN had been classified as having inadequate KYC and could only receive transfer and deposits while payment or cash withdrawals from such accounts had been restricted.
GTBank said: “Please note that your account with us is still valid as the restriction placed on your account is temporary and will be automatically removed once you enrol your BVN at any of our branches nationwide or link with a BVN to your account.”
The bank said BVN registration would continue in all our branches nationwide after October 31, 2015 deadline, adding that: “Please remember that if you have obtained your BVN from another Nigerian bank or an offshore enrolment centre, you can link it to your GTB account using our internet banking platform, corporate website and all GTBank ATMs nationwide.”
The CBN and Nigerian Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) have said the BVN registration would still go on despite the expiration of the deadline.
CBN Director of Corporate Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Muazu, said the process would still go-on after the deadline, adding the deadline meant that any customer that failed to do the registration would have some restriction to operate his accounts.
Mu’azu said majority of the banks had captured the BVN of their active customers except for those customers that chose not to participate in the process.
He said: “Deadline was successful because the awareness has been created for millions of customers and the banking halls were empty yesterday unlike the June deadline where there were chaos everywhere in the banking halls.”
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), Mr. Ade Shonubi, also said that the BVN is a continuous process and that it is the minimum requirement for Know Your Customer (KYC) as provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers’ Committee.
The BVN, an initiative of the CBN, was launched in February 2014 and is being supported by the bankers’ committee.
It is aimed at protecting bank customers and further strengthening the Nigerian banking system.
It was among other things, introduced to address safety of customers’ funds, avoid losses through compromise of personal identification numbers and other criminal activities in the industry.
The BVN is a unique number that enables one person to have a single identity in the banking system. It basically ensures that a customer’s identity is not stolen. A customer is only expected to register at one bank, irrespective of the number of accounts he has.
Meanwhile, in a quest to ensure the successful implementation of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) project, the CBN has extended the BVN registration deadline till January 31, 2016 for Nigerian Bank customers in Diaspora.
The compliance rate of Nigerian Bank Customers in Diaspora has been low compared to over 90 per cent of Nigerians in the country who have complied with the Bank Verification Number (BVN).
The extension of the exercise for Nigerian bank customers in the diaspora was made public by the apex bank’s spokesman, Alhaji Ibrahim Muazu, during a phone conversation with our correspondent.
A circular published by the apex regulatory bank signed by Director Banking and Payments System Department, Dipo Fatokun and dated November 2, 2015, read in part: “BVN enrolment for Nigerian Banks customers in Diaspora has been extended to 31st January 2016. This is to enable them complete the registration exercise and the attachment of their BVN to their bank accounts.
According to the circular, the CBN has observed with satisfaction the progress made so far in the implementation of the BVN project, especially for accounts operated by Nigeria residents. Consequently, Nigeria residents bank account without the BVN would be operated as NO CUSTOMER INITIATED DEBIT account until the account holder obtain and attach a BVN to the account but such account will still continue to receive credit inflows (in cash and electronically and will neither be deactivated nor confiscated).
As many banks in Nigeria have initiated steps to ease the BVN registration in Nigeria, the CBN had in August released certain guidelines that could help customers in these cities — London, Dubai, Leicester, New Delhi, Washington DC, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Guangzhou, New York, Beijing, and Houston get their BVN numbers without the need to come to Nigeria. Two options which are:
The physical presentation of Nigerians staying abroad at their bank’s branches/subsidiary, where facilities have been made available, where scanners and devices expected to capture necessary data, generate a BVN and communicate same to the customers have been made available. After which the customers are expected to forward the assigned BVN to their banks, for linkage with their accounts.”
The second option is the Online-integrated solutions (OIS), engaged by CBN to record necessary data, and give out BVN numbers, but at a fee of £30 to the customer. The banking sector regulator explained that the company (OIS) had been engaged to establish stations for data capture and generation of BVN at the cost of £30 per transaction, to be paid by the customer. The company is expected to capture necessary data for online transmission to the NIBSS, who would thereafter, generate the BVN and communicate same to the customer.
“The customer may approach OIS for BVN, where the communication from NIBSS is not received within 48 hours after the enrolment, after which, Nigerian bank customers in the diaspora are expected to forward their BVN to their banks for linkage with their accounts.
Alhaji Ibrahim further explained that the BVN exercise is simply for the personal benefit of customers. “In order to ease debit transactions difficulties with accounts that have no BVN, customers that have not complied with the BVN are been encouraged to do so, also customers with multiple accounts should endeavour to link their accounts with their BVN once registered,” he stated.

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