The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has revealed that the number of account holders placed on the Bank Verification Number (BVN) watch list for fraud-related activities increased by 25% to 7,552 in nine months, highlighting the rising level of fraud in Nigeria’s financial system. This number was 6,045 as of June last year and rose by 1,505 in less than a year.
The Director of the Payment Systems Management Department of the CBN, Musa Jimoh, disclosed this at the 34th Seminar for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors in Calabar. Individuals being investigated for various fraud risks face exclusion from the financial system. Meanwhile, the total BVN enrollment has risen to 57.43 million as of March 31, 2023.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who was represented by the Director of Monetary Policy, Dr. Hassan Mahmud, highlighted the importance of BVN in the bank’s know your customer (KYC) requirements to ease constraints associated with poor identification of bank customers.
He added that BVN has supported the development of credit profiles for depositors and improved access to credit, as well as tracking, identifying and investigating fraudulent financial transactions. However, he noted that implementing digital payments has faced challenges due to weak social infrastructure, such as unstable telecommunications networks and power infrastructure.
Emefiele also pointed out the nefarious activities of unlicensed entities in the payment value chain, which continue to threaten the resilience of payment platforms and impact public confidence. To combat these challenges, the CBN has launched several initiatives, including the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF), which consists of all relevant stakeholders, to proactively address challenges and safeguard the integrity of e-payment channels.
The CBN has also adopted a collaborative approach to minimize cybersecurity threats in the payment system and issued a Risk-Based Cyber-Security Framework and Guidelines for Other Financial Institutions.