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BVN Registrations Slow Despite CBN Threats to Close Unlinked Accounts

Lagos, Nigeria – The growth of Nigeria’s Bank Verification Number (BVN) database has slowed significantly this year, registering only 2.2 million new signups since January. This is despite recent threats by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to close accounts not linked to BVNs.

According to the latest figures from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), total BVN enrollees reached 58.7 million as of September 12. But the average monthly registration rate in 2022 so far is just 275,000, down from over 400,000 per month in 2021.

Meanwhile, the number of active bank accounts in the country stands at an estimated 134 million, outstripping BVN holders. The CBN hopes mandatory linkage will help combat fraud and illicit transactions.

In August, CBN Director of Risk Management Blaise Ijebor announced plans to shut millions of unlinked accounts across deposit money banks. However, experts say this threat has yet to spur mass BVN registration.

Some analysts attribute the slowdown to factors like already widespread adoption among account holders, insufficient awareness campaigns, and enrollment fatigue. Many Nigerians opened accounts during the pandemic that remain unverified.

“Threats can only go so far if people don’t understand the benefits,” said Jimi Adebayo, an economist. “More needs to be done to educate the unbanked on BVN advantages.”

Others say enrolled customers with multiple accounts feel less urgency to verify numbers. The unique ID covers all accounts tied to one individual.

While progress has stalled, financial inclusion advocates hope engagement with community leaders and leverage of agent networks can restart momentum. Bringing more Nigerians into the formal system remains a priority.


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