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Bank Verification Number (BVN)

The absence of a unique identifier in the Nigerian banking industry has been a major challenge inhibiting the effectiveness of the Know Your Customer (KYC) principle, with negative consequences on the growth of credit cards and other credit-related products.

To complement the existing means of identification of customers, which include: the driver’s license; the International Passport; the National Identity Card; and the Permanent Voter’s Card; the CBN, in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee on February 14, 2014, launched a centralized biometric identification system for the banking industry, tagged Bank verification Number (BVN).

The Bank Verification Number (BVN) project is an initiative aimed at protecting bank customers and further strengthening the Nigerian banking system. The Bank introduced BVN to all banks’ customers to address the absence of unique identifier across the Nigerian Banking Industry. The BVN is a number that enables a bank customer to have a single identity in the banking system. The full implementation was expected to enhance the effectiveness of KYC requirement, the safety and reliability of the payments system


The benefits of the project among others include:

  1. BVN gives a unique identity that can be verified across the Nigerian Banking Industry (not peculiar to one bank)
  2. Customers bank accounts are protected from unauthorized access.
  3. BVN will enhance the banking industry chances of being able to fish out blacklisted customers.
  4. It will address issues of identity theft, thus reduce exposure to fraud.
  5. In the near future, to authenticate transactions without the use of cards, using only biometric features.


The Bank issued circulars guiding the implementation of the project for all the DMBs, which stipulated the following:

  1. DMBs were required to enrol at least, 40 per cent of their customers on or before December 31, 2014;
  2. Customers with new loans must have the BVN as a condition precedent to drawdown, with effect from November3, 2014;
  3. Credit customers must have BVNs by December 31, 2014;
  4. Transactions valued at N100,000,000.00 (One hundred million Naira) and above should only be allowed for customers with BVN by March 2015;
  5. Banks’ customers without BVN by October 31, 2015 would be deemed not to have met Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements.

The CBN in collaboration with banks carried out various sensitization exercises which had been assisting in driving the stakeholders support for the project. The enrollment is still ongoing at about 5,000 locations. As at 7th June, 2015, the collaborative efforts in the implementation of the BVN initiative had resulted in the achievement of over 12.43 million registered customers in the central database.

The Bank is making effort to ensure that all the bank customers wherever located, are appropriately captured. Currently, some of these customers are based in various countries across the globe and a framework will be put in place for capturing them.

At the point of enrolment for BVN, a bank customer is required to walk into any of the bank’s branches with a valid means of identification, fill and submit the BVN Enrolment Form, and present self for data capturing (such as fingerprint, facial Image, etc.) Thereafter, an acknowledgment slip with the transaction ID will be issued to the customer. Within 24hours the system confirms the enrolment and a unique BVN is generated. The customer will immediately receive an SMS notification with the BVN.

Customers are expected to submit their BVN to their bankers for linkage to all their accounts.

A deadline of end-October 2015 has been set for customers to comply with the BVN requirement, failing which their accounts will be deemed to have incomplete KYC.


Recent Developments in Bank Verification Number (BVN):

Following are links to Circulars and Press Releases on the subject

Use of BVN for FOREX Transactions

Extension Of BVN For Nigeria Bank Customers In Diaspora And Other Related Matters

BVN: Bank Customers Beware

Framework for the Enrolment of Nigerian Banks Customers in Diaspora for BVN Issuance



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