•Figure increases by 25 per cent in six months
•eNaira records 1.4 million transactions from inception
The number of account holders placed on the bank verification number (BVN) watch list for fraud-related activities jumped 25 per cent to 7,552 in about nine months, underpinning the rising level of fraud in the financial system.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) disclosed that the number was 6,045 as at June last year. But the figure added 1,505 in less than a year to hit 7,552.
This was disclosed by the Director of the Payment Systems Management Department of the apex bank, Musa Jimoh, yesterday, at the 34th Seminar for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors holding in Calabar, Cross River state capital.
Jimoh, who was represented by an assistant director in the department, Adefuye Adeyemi, said the individuals being investigated for various fraud risks being excluded from the financial system.
In his opening remark, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed that the total BVN enrollment had increased to 57.43 million as at March 31, 2023. He added that the BVN is supporting the development of credit profiles for depositors and improving access to credit.
Emefiele, who was represented by the Director of Monetary Policy, Dr. Hassan Mahmud, said BVN has continued to feature in the bank’s know your customer (KYC) requirements as part of the plan to ease constraints associated with poor identification of bank customers.
According to him, BVN has also helped the industry in tracking, identifying and investigating fraudulent financial transactions. It has not been all rosy implementing digital payment, however, Emefiele said, as weak social infrastructure becomes a major challenge.
“Effective operation of payment platforms is highly reliant on stable telecommunication networks and power infrastructure. These are currently not optimal in Nigeria, thus, impacting the stability and resilience of the payments system,” he explained.
Emefiele equally pointed at the nefarious activities of unlicensed entities in the payment value chain. He added: “Some entities have continued to exploit access to information technology to engage in regulated activities without the appropriate licenses and authorisation. The activities of fraudsters continue to threaten the resilience of payment platforms. The confidence of the public is impacted by these activities.
“However, the collaborative effort between the Central Bank of Nigeria and other players in the industry is helping to curtail the nefarious activities of these fraudsters.”
In response to the challenges, Emefiele hinted, the CBN has rolled out steps to stem the tide. One of the initiatives, he said, is the setting up of the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF), which consists of all relevant stakeholders, to proactively address challenges and safeguard the integrity of the e-payment channels.
He maintained that with some of the initiatives introduced so far, the CBN has demonstrated irrevocable commitment to ensuring the stability and safety of the Nigerian payment system.
“Accordingly, we shall continue to deepen our oversight of the activities of operators in the payments system as well as ensure full compliance with regulations. In this regard, examiners and supervisors would continue to ensure that services delivered by participants meet required security standards.
“The bank will also continue to adopt a collaborative approach to achieve minimal cybersecurity threats in the payments system. A holistic mechanism for addressing cybersecurity threats requires policy and operational actions by all stakeholders. As you are aware, effective January 2023, the bank issued Risk-Based Cyber-Security Framework and Guidelines for Other Financial Institutions to ensure their operational resilience in the face of cyber-security threats,” he stated.
The CBN boss also highlighted the role of the country’s central bank digital (CBDC) – eNaira – in advancing the smart payment system. He disclosed that the total transaction in eNaira has risen to 1.4 million, which is about double the volume recorded in its first anniversary.
In his remarks, the Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Adbulmumin Isah, said the discussions were aimed at deepening the electronic payment system.