The Bankers’ Committee on Tuesday rose from its 315th meeting and announced that the biometric registration of bank customers would commence on Friday.
As a result, all Deposit Money Banks will on that day commence the registration of their customers’ details, including their fingerprints.
The Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, briefed journalists at the end of the bi-monthly meeting held in Lagos.
He said the biometric identification system would help the fight against fraud and money laundering, and also enhance the protection of bank customers.
“The banking industry, under the auspices of the Bankers’ Committee, has been working to improve the Know Your Customer requirement. The idea is to fight fraud, money laundering and ensure a better customer protection. The initiative will be launched this Friday, February 14,” Wigwe said.
He said the banks, in collaboration with the CBN, had been working on the initiative for a long time, adding that necessary infrastructure had been put in place to ensure the smooth rollout of the biometric scheme.
“There will be teething problems, but we will learn from it. The biometric initiative is being pursued by the Bankers’ Committee,” the Access Bank boss said.
The Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr. Ugochukwu Okoroafor, said the biometric system, when fully operational, would help to improve credit in the economy and boost the nation’s macro-economy.
Okoroafor said, “Nigeria runs on cash; there is no identity. We don’t know who is who. We are now going into identity confirmation. We can now create a credit system that will power our economy.
“Banks don’t want to lend because of identity issue. We want to move Nigeria from cash system to credit system that has identity.”
The central bank also announced that its Cash-Lite policy would go nationwide by July1.
The Head, Shares Services, CBN, Mr. Chidi Umeano, said the development would help to modernise the nation’s payment system.
He said, “Statistics show that there has been a shift from the traditional cash-carrying system to electronic form of payment. For instance, there is the Nigerian Electronic Fund Transfer, Nigerian Instant Payment, Point of Sale terminal and Mobile Money.
“As of yesterday (Monday), the value of transactions carried out using the NEFT was N153bn; Nigerian Instant Pay, N37bn; PoS terminals, N50m; and Mobile Money, N12m, totalling N190.62bn for a single day.”
The CBN had two years ago introduced the cash-less policy in Lagos and Abuja, but last year added six other states.
Meanwhile, the Group Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mr. Bisi Onasanya, provided reasons why the Bankers’ Committee agreed with the CBN on its decision to increase the Cash Reserve Requirement to 75 per cent from 50 per cent.
The monetary measure had negatively impacted on the banks’ bottomlines.
Onasanya said in the face of dwindling external reserves occasioned by decreasing oil revenue, the central bank had limited measures to achieve exchange rate stability.
This, he said, informed the committee’s decision to go along with the Monetary Policy Committee on the latest monetary tightening measure.
Onasanya said, “The Bankers’ Committee looked at the global economic environment and its impact on Nigeria. We looked at the United States tapering, global crisis and the resolution of the crisis in Iran, and the impact of the outflow of portfolio investment out of Nigeria.”