Why Bank Customers in Diaspora’s Pay for BVN

Godwin Emefiele


The Nigeria Interbank Settlement System says people in diaspora pay N10,000 to do their biometric verification number to enable Online Integration Services, the company capturing their data to recover its cost

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Aug 10, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT  |

THE Nigeria Interbank Settlement System, NIBSS, has explained why bank customers in diaspora have to pay to enrol for the biometric verification number, BVN, programme. Ade Shonubi, managing director, NIBSS, while addressing the uproar that greeted the use of an external consultant for BVN enrolment of diaspora bank customers, said NIBSS decided to engage Online Integration Services, OIS, as external consultants due to limitation of data privacy laws, time and resources.

“In many countries, the law does not permit data of their citizens from being captured and store outside the country. So the first thing we considered was what can be done legally and by whom. And we did some research on who supports Nigerian embassies in gathering data for visa application, for passport renewal application because by law they are covered and allowed to gather that data, and under that premise can we also get them to help us with the BVN and that was how Online Integration Services, OIS, came to be picked. The company has been in existence for long, they are in many countries, and they have been doing this in association with the Nigerian government.

“The next thing is the cost. The reality is that we have limited options. Option number one is, we get up here we go there, even if we are allowed, we have to send people there, rent space, put network infrastructure in place that is securely connected to NIBSS and then put devices in place. “So they have committed their own resources. And the conversation we had with them started with, this is however much we charge, the services we are providing is very similar to the Nigerian government when people want to renew their Nigerian passport, or when they want to get visa, we charge them £50, and this is verifiable. And we told them, you can’t charge £50 for BVN enrolment, and somehow we arrived at £30.

“This is because a lot of the things they are using are not the same. They don’t use the same application they have been using for capturing your visa application request. They have to set up a separate secure one for us. They are the ones incurring this cost and they are not paying us one kobo. There is nothing that comes to us in any shade, form, or manner. We just told them, recover your cost. And they have agreed to go to countries that don’t have Nigerian banks. They are going to China, India, and we have two or three locations in U.S,” he said.

Nigerians in London, United Kingdom, had on Friday, July 17, expressed frustration over the compulsory payment of £30 (about N10, 000) for the registration of the BVN as directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. Some of them stormed the Nigeria High Commission in London to protest against the directive of the apex bank. Others took to the social media to vent their anger.

The CBN had recently extended the deadline for the BVN registration from June 30 to October 31, 2015 as disclosed in a circular issued to all deposit money banks operating in the country. Dipo Fatokun, director, banking and payment systems department, CBN, said the extension became imperative in order to give bank customers more time to participate in the enrolment exercise.

The circular had read in part, “It has come to our notice that the BVN registration has elicited tremendous interest from the Nigerian banks’ customers who crowded the banking halls in order to beat the deadline. Furthermore, there is the need to give Nigerian banks’ customers in the Diaspora ample time to enrol on the programme. The guideline for their enrolment is being finalised and will be released soon.”

Though the BVN registration in Nigeria is free, Nigerians living in Diaspora have had to part with N10, 000 to enrol.


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