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BVN Deadline: Gale Of Panic Hits Banks

There is likelihood that the deadline given by CBN will elapse this week. According to CBN directive, defaulters of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) registration will not be able to make transactions in and outside Nigeria as from the end of this month. As part of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s cashless policy, it aims to capture data and check fraud in the banking system by giving every bank customer a unique identification number that can be verified across all banks in the country. Lagos Banks in Lagos State have been thrown into panic as many branches are besieged by customers who are desperate to beat the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN deadline for BVN.

The UNION investigation revealed that banks, especially those on the out skirt of the Lagos are struggling to cope with customers who besieged their banks to effect compliance with the CBN directive. A bank officials in one of the new generation banks in Ikorodu area and Ketu areas of Lagos who did not want their names in print told our reporter that they have been struggling to cope with the number of customers coming to register to beat the CBN deadline. “Before, we use to beg them to register but they have not been complying, now they are coming in droves to beat the deadline. We are doing our best but many of them are getting impatient, hence the rowdiness you are seeing today”, the bank worker said.

A customer, Mr Jide Adasanya told the UNION , that he and some others came to the bank as early as 9 am last Friday morning to effect the registration, “but as you can see, this is after 12 noon, they are yet to attend to us. How long are we going to wait? We have businesses we want to attend to, but here we are”. He appealed that the “banks should let their staff come to work on Saturdays so that some of their customers would be free to come and do it”. Aba Many account holders in the various commercial banks with branches in Aba may not be registered for the Bank Verification Number (BVN) exercise currently going on across the country. Analysts have said that the major reason for not meeting the deadline target is the sluggish attitude of bank staff conducting the exercise in attending to customers visiting their branches daily to be registered.

Though there was initial apathy by operators of bank accounts to approach their banks for the exercise, a surge began when the period of grace leading to the June 30 expiration date began to get shorter. To this end, many branches of commercial banks in Aba that were not used as registration centres opened up registration desks to carry out the exercise as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) continues to say that the date will not be extended after it had expired on the said June 30. Some bank customers who spoke to The UNION on the successes and failures of banks to accommodate all account holders that came for the exercise, were of the opinion that while the banks were to blame for not seriously sensitizing their customers and informing them of the implications of not registering and obtaining the BVNs, the supervising apex bank should temper mercy by extending the period from June 30, to enable those that are being left out to do so, or at most allow the exercise continue in a normal banking process with those that could get the opportunity to do so at the appropriate time to do so.

Meanwhile, major banks such as UBA, First Bank, Zenith and Diamond had thousands of customers visiting their branches daily to partake in the exercise, though most of them had only few machines to take their particulars including photographs, fingerprints and signatures with which they opened their accounts with the branches. According to some of those that were not lucky to get registered after several visits, many of them leave their homes between four and five o’clock in the morning on working days to the bank to get tally numbers that will enable them obtain application forms for registration but always get disappointed for not being attended to, after staying for the period of business that ends by four o’clock in the evening. Some of them were even said to be withdrawing their monies from their bank accounts in view of rumours making rounds that those that did not register to obtain the BVN will have their accounts frozen or even closed.

Those withdrawing their monies are saying that after getting frustrated by bank officials handling the exercise, who they accused of not attending to applicants promptly and were lackadaisical and insulting them in their approach to customers complaints, the only option for them were to take away their money and open new accounts after the exercise when the BVN issue would have become a routine exercise in opening new bank accounts by intending customers. However, about 100 customers who claimed to have registered and obtained their own BVN in response to questions from our correspondent on the exercise said the experience though cumbersome and time consuming, in view of the approach being used by bank staff handling the project was in order to forestall incidents of fraud and delays in attendance to bank transactions in by genuine customers and account holders. Calabar As the Bank Verification Number exercise come to end on June 30th 2015, large number of people who have not carried out the exercise in Calabar, Cross River State claimed ignorance of the program.

They said they are neither aware nor understand the benefits of the exercise. Majority of those interviewed claimed that they have not been informed or enlightened about the exercise. Even some of the working class people in the state also claimed they don’t know much about the exercise pointing out that they are yet do the verification.

“I don’t know what it’s all about; the bank verification number to me is strange. The other day, I went to the bank and saw large crowd of people gathering, when I asked, those standing there could not explain why they are there”, a bank customer who pleaded anonymity said. “This, also means, they do not know why they are there. The bank officials are not helping matters; because some of them I asked could not explain why they are carrying out the exercise. I am told the exercise is ending this month but I am assuring you that millions of Nigerians will be left behind”, the banker said”.

A recent visit at the bank in Calabar, Odukpani, Akpabuyo, Bakassi, Akamkpa and show that the turned out was very poor while few banks recorded high numbers of customers who went for the exercise. At First Bank, UBA, GTB and few other banks, customers were seen registering and verifying their accounts. They further call on the extension of the dateline. Ilorin As the closing date for bank verification number draws to a close, customers in Ilorin, Kwara State capital are jittery over what would be the outcome and fate of defaulters.

A bank customer, Yinka Babatunde who owns an account with both Stanbic IBTC, and GTB said he was able to do the BVN exercise. According to him, the BVN will surely help to check fraud even though reason for the exercise was not explained. Another bank customer, Adiatu Yusuf said he did the exercise four months ago at GTB in Ibadan, adding that he does not need to do same at other banks because she was made to understand one account covers others owned by a customer irrespective of the bank.

Lamenting on the new policy, Yusuf said “incessant updates are stressful to customers and advised one time programme that would last decades not whenever new person is at the helm of affairs at CBN. A Zenith Bank customer at Ilorin, Macdonald Moses said he was very aware of the BVN requirement by CBN right from the beginning but was not compelled to do it. Hajia Memuna Yero, Female, Fulani cheese seller at Kosubosu, Baruten LGA, Kwara North to The Union that she was not aware of BVN because she uses a microfinance bank far away from her residence. On his own part, Mr Cletus Osondu, a businessman said he was aware but has no time to do the BVN exercise. He however, believes that the date will be extended because no bank would like to lose customers. To Bagudu Mohammadu, a fruit seller at a major market in Ilorin, the BVN exercise is good but more time needs to be given for it. He said he was very much aware but feels very reluctant to go to bank for the exercise His excuse was simply that he was a petty trader and does not need to send money to anybody far or near.

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