The use of Bank Verification Number (BVN) in linking customers’ account, seems to have been making great strides as the statistics obtained from the NIBSS website on Sunday, showed that the total number of Nigerian banks customers dropped from 61 million in 2016 to 59 million in 2017.
It also showed that the linked BVN accounts grew from 26 million in 2016, to 41.3 million in 2017. Confirming the report, a banking industry source disclosed that the reduction in banking customers is not unconnected to the Federal Government’s declaration to fight against corruption.
When Buhari assumed office, many people abandoned their accounts, especially civil servants because of fear of investigation. While some out rightly closed down their accounts, others opted for gradual withdrawal so as not to raise alarm,’’ the source said.
Though the banking industry source blamed the BVN for the low patronage of banking products, especially in the rural areas where awareness was already very low, however a bank customer, Olaitan Alagbe told NAN that she closed some of her accounts due to unnecessary and illegal charges by banks.
“First of all, the interest rate is next to nothing, so there is little reason to keep your money at the bank when you can turn it over doing other businesses,” she said.
Another bank customer who spoke to NAN correspondent, said she was forced to close down the bank accounts she opened, following the Ponzi schemes which crashed in late 2016 and early 2017.
A source at the CBN told NAN that the reduction in the number of Nigerian banks customers, was caused mainly by the introduction of BVN.
“The reduction may not necessarily be a bad thing. For example, many people opened accounts using different variations of their names. A person bearing Musa Salisu Mohammed, may have other accounts as Salisu Mohammed or Musa Salisu. So with the introduction of BVN, such customers were forced to regularise their names, however, some opted to close down their accounts, which resulted in the reduction of active bank accounts and customers,’’ the source said.