by Ireoluwa Agboola

The 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.

With the increasing incidents of compromise on conventional security systems (password and PIN), there is a high demand for greater security on access to sensitive or personal information in the Banking system.

Biometrics refers to identification of an individual based on physiological attributes- fingerprint, voice, facial features etc. To address existing challenges with identity management, the Central Bank of Nigeria, in collaboration with all Nigerian banks launched a centralized biometric identification system tagged Bank Verification Number (BVN).

How This Works:

Under normal circumstances anyone can get access to you bank PIN number, card or can even copy your hand sign. They can use it without you. But since BVN uses biometric data which are impossible to steal or copy no one can use your bank account without you knowing about it.

Goals and Benefits:

The goals behind this is to provide each bank customer with a unique number and add their biometric information to a secure central database. This will serve the purpose of “Know You Customer” or KYC policy for the banks in Nigeria.


This will ensure safe banking and prevent any fraudulent transactions or activities. In case of transaction without cards this will help to authenticate any transaction using only BVN and biometric information. It will also increase the efficiency of the banks and enable customers to do future banking activities.

Getting a BVN:

According to the Central Bank of Nigeria each and every bank customer has to have a BVN. Whether you have an old account or opening a new account you have to have a BVN. Any bank customer without BVN is deemed to have insufficient KYC.

To get your Bank Verification Number or BVN you have to go to any branch of your bank and fill out an enrollment form for your account. Once that is done you will have to give your fingerprints and facial image. Since the system requires biometric information you have to be physically present at the time. The BVN takes about 24 hours to generate. Until then an acknowledgement slip with transaction ID will be issued against you. When your BVN is generated your respective bank will inform you.

For joint account the signatories BVN will be linked to their account. Any bank customer living outside Nigeria can sign up withe their banks when they visit their cities or at centers that have been designated for BVN sign up with 3rd party companies.. The BVN is valid for 10 years and after that you have to renew your BVN by re-enrolling.

To get more information about the procedure go here.


The Bank Verification Number is to work with PIN and Point of transaction. Later on it is also to be implemented on POS machines and ATM’s.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has directed all commercial Banks not to allow any transaction without BVN valued N100 million and above after March,2015. Any bank failing to comply with BVN for their customers will be sanctioned.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has also instructed that, all the existing bank customers must have Bank Verification Number by end of October 2015.

For more information about Bank Verification Number visit here.

The BVN initiative is part of the overall policy of the financial inclusion policy of the Financial Sector Strategy (FSS) agenda of ensuring that Nigeria becomes one of the top 20 largest economies in the world by 2020.

INCONCLUSION, Let me stress that your BVN is more or less the gateway to your financial world. Do not share Bank Verification Number with anyone other than a recognized financial institution.


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