Banks Warn of Potential Blockage of 70 Million Accounts Due to NIN Linkage

Banks Warn of Potential Blockage of 70 Million Accounts Due to NIN Linkage

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Over 70 million bank customers may face account restrictions if they fail to link their accounts with their Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) and National Identification Numbers (NIN) before the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) directive comes into effect.

The directive, issued by the CBN on December 1, 2023, stipulates that accounts without BVN and NIN will be subject to a ‘Post No Debit’ restriction starting from March 1, 2024. This restriction prevents account holders from conducting withdrawals, transfers, or any other debits from their accounts, effectively freezing the funds therein.

In a joint circular signed by Chibuzo Efobi, Director of the Payments System Management Department, and Haruna Mustapha, Director of the Financial Policy and Regulation Department, the CBN mandated all Tier-1 bank accounts to have BVN and/or NIN, while it remains mandatory for Tier 2 & 3 accounts to have both BVN and NIN.

Furthermore, the circular specified that existing Tier-1 accounts without BVN or NIN would immediately be placed on ‘Post No Debit or Credit’ status until the required process is completed. Effective March 1, 2024, funded accounts without BVN or NIN will also be placed on ‘Post No Debit or Credit,’ with all transactions halted. Additionally, all accounts/wallets must have their BVN or NIN electronically revalidated by January 31, 2024.

Banks have begun informing customers to update their account information in accordance with the CBN directive. Some banks have provided options for customers to either visit physical branches or update their accounts online.

The urgency surrounding this directive has sparked concerns among stakeholders, including Sarafadeen Fasasi, the National President of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, who called for an extension of the deadline due to the challenges in achieving full compliance. Fasasi highlighted discrepancies in the number of issued NINs and BVNs compared to the total number of accounts, raising doubts about the feasibility of meeting the deadline.

Similarly, Moses Igbrude, Chairman of Consumer Rights Awareness, Advancement, and Advocacy Initiative, emphasized the need for a comprehensive assessment of the compliance level before enforcing strict measures. He urged the CBN to consider the infrastructural challenges and the impact on Nigerians, including those in the diaspora.

Echoing these sentiments, Dr. Uju Ogubunka, President of the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, called for an extension of the deadline to accommodate customers facing difficulties in linking their accounts. Ogubunka suggested conducting a test run to sensitize account holders about the potential impact of the directive.

While banks have yet to implement the restrictions, customers have been urged to promptly link their accounts to avoid disruptions. The deadline has prompted a surge in customer visits to bank branches across Lagos, with concerns raised about the capacity to handle the registration process effectively.

Efforts to reach the CBN for comment on the matter have been unsuccessful.

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