Identity Crisis: 2 Million Bank Accounts Closed Over BVN, NIN Discrepancies

By Ikadolo Efosa

In an effort to clean their books of questionable accounts and comply with regulatory orders, commercial banks in Nigeria closed a total of 2.021 million bank accounts in the first quarter of 2024 (Q1’24). This information is contained in a report by the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS).

According to the report, the number of inactive bank accounts grew by four million or 2.0% to 19.7 million in March 2024, compared to 19.3 million in February. A bank account is classified as inactive when it records zero transactions, including deposits, withdrawals, transfers, or point-of-sale transactions, for six months.

On the other hand, the number of active bank accounts grew by 6.62 million or 3.0% to 219.64 million in March 2024, up from 213.02 million in February.

This development follows a directive issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in December 2023, which instructed all commercial banks to restrict tier-1 accounts without proper Biometric Verification Number (BVN) and National Identity Number (NIN) that are not linked by March 1st, 2024.

As of April 2024, NIBSS data on BVN enrollment count shows that 61.6 million Nigerians have BVN.

The closure of these bank accounts is part of the ongoing efforts by the CBN and NIBSS to strengthen the Nigerian banking system and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

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