BVN is issued for life: CBN moves to correct fake news it put out in a 2015 FAQ

Omoleye Omoruyi
AbokiFX resumes operations following Emefiele's suspension

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Wednesday, stated that the Bank Verification Number (BVN) issued by the bank in collaboration with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) does not expire.

The clarification became necessary after reports were spread suggesting that the BVN – a unique 11-digit number assigned to each bank customer – only has a 1o-year validation.

In a statement, CBN acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Dr Isa AbdulMumin said “Once a customer’s biometrics have been captured and enrolled in the database of NIBSS, the BVN remains for life.”

BVN has no expiry - CBN

AbdulMumin further clarified that the Regulatory Framework for BVN, issued by the CBN in 2021, stipulates that customers can only change their records due to certain conditions spelt out in the document and after being cleared by relevant authorities.

Section 1.5.4 (i): [Customers shall] Provide accurate biometrics and biodata. Customers' roles and responsibilities shall also include the reporting of any changes in their biometrics (e.g. loss of a finger) and biodata. 

For changing of records, Section 1.14 [Updating Customer’s BVN Records] reads:

Change of customer records shall be allowed as follows:

i. Correction of date of birth on BVN record shall be allowed once, with supporting documents, evidencing the correct date of birth;

ii. Change of Name due to marriage/divorce/religion shall only be allowed with supporting documents, such as marriage certificate/divorce certificate/affidavit, newspaper adverts, etc.;

iii. Minor correction of name, due to misspelling shall only be allowed, with supporting documents and regulatory forms of identification such as international passport, driver’s licence and NIMC ID showing the correct name;

iv. Change of names that are totally different or partially different shall only be allowed after the customer has produced supporting documents to the change of the name, and this shall be reported to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) as a suspicious act by the participant. The NFIU shall issue appropriate clearance in the case of a totally different name before effecting the change;

v. The customer’s name on the BVN database shall be the same in all his/her accounts, across the banking industry.

The CBN, therefore, urged customers in the country, especially those whose biometrics had been captured by the system, to continue using their unique identifiers as they last their entire lifetime. 

What got people talking about BVN expiration

There were random posts – even pre-2023 – by social media users that the BVN is expected to expire after 10 years. A trend that led to several conversations.

But these conversations were not spurred by just empty rumours. They are actually products of a 2015 FAQ document on the Central Bank’s website that reads:

Question 12: When does my BVN expire and how do I renew?
Answer: The BVN expires after 10 years. After 10 years of the issuance of the BVN, the
customer goes back to his/her bank to re-enroll.

BVN will expire

That FAQ document (PDF) has been taken off the CBN site.

What really matters

Per data released by the NIBSS, the new enrolments recorded between January and March brought the total registration to 54 million as of April 10, 2022, Technext earlier reported.

Out of 191.4 million bank accounts, 54 million are the ones with BVNs. This means that about 137.2 million (71.7%) bank accounts were without BVNs.

But before then, as of December 2021, there were more than 45 million accounts without BVN, holding monies up to 1.2 trillion. This revelation led the House of Representatives to start a probe in February 2022.

By April 9, 2023, the number of bank account owners in Nigeria with BVN increased to 57 million. Data from the NIBSS, however, showed that registration for the BVN has slowed since the beginning of 2023 despite moves by the CBN to close all bank accounts not linked.

The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, in a statement issued by the Director of the Risk Management Department and Chief Risk Officer, Blaise Ijabor said the objective was to clean up the sector and reduce the increasing incidence of fraud in the financial sector.

Godwin Emefiele

The CBN’s decision to close millions of bank accounts not linked to the BVN is expected to encourage customers to update their records and link their bank accounts to the BVN.

But by the end of 2022, the BVN database stood at 56.5 million – which means that only 500,000 more registrations took place in the three months of 2023 until April 9.

We would return with reports of BVN registrations to understand if the slowdown was upturned or not.

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