Biometric Verification Number: Reality And Benefits (2)

The immediate benefit of the Biometric Verification Number (BVN), is that, it allows banks to be sure of who they are dealing with. The second benefit is that it reduces the possibility for fraudsters using bank accounts and services for fraudulent purposes.

Now there is so much fear about the BVN. Some people believe that the BVN, like the Personal Identification Number (PIN), can be used to access the bank account of the owner and defraud him/her. This is far from the truth. The BVN is like your house address, or your account number, while your signature or your PIN is the key.

Somebody may know your bank account number, but he must be able to forge your signature or know your PIN before he can make illegal withdrawal from your account. So also, if somebody knows your house address, he must have the key to access your house. The same with the BVN, the fact that somebody knows your BVN does not mean he or she can use it to access your bank account.

Remember that anytime you want to do transaction in a bank, and you submit your BVN, the bank would verify it by doing a search on the BVN database. The search will reveal the fingerprints and facial appearance of the owner of the BVN and once this does not match that of the person that submitted the BVN for transaction, the bank will know he/she is a fraudster.

And in the case of online transactions, you need the PIN and a token number to consummate the transaction. So the BVN alone cannot necessarily be used to gain access to somebody’s bank account. It can only be used to reveal the identity of the person behind the account.

A major benefit of the BVN for both banks and customers is security. There are many bank accounts opened by fraudsters, who use these accounts solely for fraudulent purposes. Some of these bank accounts are opened by bank staff who work in connivance with other people to defraud bank customers. And they have successfully defrauded many people.

Last year alone, banks and their customers lost N1.8 billion to fraudsters, according to the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC). These fraudsters get away with these frauds because they use fictitious identities to create the account.

These have made many people especially those who have fallen victims, to shy away from using the services of banks.

They would rather keep their money under the pillow. Also, many bank customers, including the author, shy away from internet banking for transactions, notwithstanding the manhours that would be saved. I know a colleague who was defraud, and hence never use ATM for withdrawals or any transaction.

But with the BVN, banks can easily, within minutes identify whoever is behind any account. So if the account is used for fraud, the fraudster can be identified, arrested, and blacklisted from the banking industry.

Thus over time, people will feel safe using the various services offered by banks to make it easy and convenient for customers to do transactions. (Vanguard)
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