1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The role of Bank Verification Number (BVN) aimed at curtailing hazards associated with social security and credit risk cannot be underestimated. In recent times, biometric technologies have been used to analyze human characteristics as an enhanced form of authentication for real-time security processes. In the face of increasing incidents of compromise on our conventional security systems (password and PIN), the need for greater security on access to sensitive or personal information in the Banking system becomes inevitable (Blass &Oved, 2003).
In addressing existing challenges with identity management, the Central Bank of Nigeria, through the banker’s committee in collaboration with all Nigerian banks in February 14, 2014 launched a centralized biometric identification system tagged “Bank Verification Number (BVN)”.
The Bank Verification Number (BVN) gives each Bank customer a unique identity across the Nigerian Banking industry that can be used for easy identification and verification at Point of Banking operations (Evangelista et al, 2001). Biometrics refers to identification of an individual based on physiological or behavioral attributes- fingerprint, voice, signature, facial features etc.
Bank Verification Number (BVN) uses biometric technology to register customers in the financial system. It records these physical features which are unique to individuals – fingerprints and the face. The record would be used to identify the person afterwards. Once a person’s biometrics have been recorded, and BVN issued the account would be accessed through BVN. The major objectives of the initiative are to protect bank customers, reduce fraud and strengthen the Nigerian banking system.
Biometric enrolment is helpful to people who cannot read and write. Their finger prints and pictures would serve the same purpose as signatures (Claudio, 2002). Multiple account holders would be covered with a single registration in any of the banks where they have accounts. BVN will help the banking system reduce situations where loan defaulters, for instance, move from one bank to the other and the banks extend new credits to them, without knowing their history. Banks would be able to track transactions across all banks in Nigeria with more ease. As CBN implements the BVN initiative, it has to ensure the security of the data, from rogue bankers and also importantly from damage, as has been the experience with other sectors that engaged in biometric enrolments. It should also create measures to punish banks that might exploit the information they have to blackmail customers with whom they have disagreements.