Three days after the expiration of the deadline set for bank customers to register and obtain their Bank Verification Number, the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System Plc has disclosed that Deposit Money Banks in the country have yet to link 6.6 million BVNs to bank accounts.
The PUNCH had on Tuesday exclusively reported that at least five million bank accounts had been blocked by the banks.
The NIBSS, owned by the CBN and commercial banks in the country, is the technical organisation appointed by the central bank and the Bankers’ Committee to be in charge of the BVN project.
The NIBSS, in an emailed response to enquiries by our correspondent on Tuesday, stated that only 14.4 million BVNs had been linked to bank accounts out of the total of 21 million BVN holders in the country.
The organisation absolved itself of blame for the delay in linking the BVNs to bank accounts, saying only the banks had the details of their customers and could therefore link the numbers to the accounts.
The Head, Corporate Communications, NIBSS, Lilian Phido, said the organisation and the CBN had done several public enlightenment campaigns to educate customers on the BVN process, adding that failure to register and link the BVN at the banks could not have been caused by the organisation.
Meanwhile, long queues of customers seeking to obtain and verify their BVNs persisted in banking halls across the country on Tuesday, leading to chaotic situations in most of the branches.
For most part of the banking hours on Tuesday, officials battled to manage the crowd of customers at most of the bank branches visited by our correspondent in Lagos.
Reports indicated that similar situations prevailed in Abuja, Port Harcourt and other major cities in the country.
Branches of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Access Bank Plc, Ecobank Nigeria Plc, Diamond Bank and Guaranty Trust Plc visited by our correspondent in Lagos were filled with customers seeking to obtain and verify their BVNs.
At some of the branches, bank officials were heard advising some of the customers to go to the lenders’ websites to link the BVNs to their accounts.
They also asked them to send SMS to certain numbers and the BVNs would be linked to their bank accounts.
However, the angry customers refused and insisted on staying in the queues until the problems were resolved and their bank accounts reactivated.
“They have blocked my bank accounts and I cannot access money and they are telling me to come back. How will I get money to do the basic things I want to do? These people are not serious,” a customer was heard saying at a bank branch in Surulere.
Further findings by our correspondent showed that the DMBs had on Monday unblocked several accounts from the over five million they had blocked on Saturday night when the deadline expired.
Our correspondent found out that a significant number of the affected customers had their bank accounts activated immediately after filing the BVN verification forms.
Meanwhile, banking sources told our correspondent that most banks were planning to introduce weekend services to enable the customers to register and obtain their BVNs.