So, on Monday and Tuesday, there was a stampede at various banks as customers converged to do the BVN (Bank verification number) registration. In fact, I hear at one particular bank, the security operatives had to fire shots into the air to bring back some sanity. Tuesday, June 30th was the deadline for this and as usual, people thronged the banks at this very last minute to get it done. That’s a problem all it’s own because this process has been on for about a year.
Some issues/concerns that have been raised about this BVN matter
“This whole idea is just another wasteful exercise. When the telecoms firm did theirs years ago it was biometric, then came the voters card and national I.D card registration scheme still biometric. Common sense would be go to any of these institutions or firms, get people’s data and integrate into their own database and ask people to pick up their BVN. The drivers’ license is another biometric exercise where people spend months just to get “captured” and pick up their cards. Why must Nigerians have to waste valuable time over multiple registration exercises?” – Imegwu Ifeanyi (culled from the Smooth 98.1fm face book page)
Very valid concerns, especially if you live in cities like Lagos or Port Harcourt where you don’t go from point A to B without absolutely needing to. I remember when I needed to register one of my sim cards. I went to the telecoms company office and they couldn’t do my data capture because their generator was having issues. Or something. And referred me to another branch (meaning a place that would take me about two hours to get to). Are you kidding me? I couldn’t even react. Was too livid. And then when I went to do my BVN the first time, I was told the guy was not on seat. So I had to go another time.
And then like that’s not bad enough, we all know that in Nigeria, it is almost impossible to have only one bank account, or phone number, or anything. You always need back up. Here’s how it works. CBN issues a directive that you can only access money transfers (Western Union, Moneygram, Rial and the rest) in a bank in which you are an account holder. If someone had sense, there would be a directive that every bank ensure that they have all these platforms listed among their services but no. So, you have a Western Union money transfer, say, to collect. You go to your bank, your bank says oops, we don’t have Western union services. So your money is floating somewhere in space. You try your second account. And the third. By then you are panicked. You might luck out, you might not. I have had to open an account with a particular bank just because they were the ones who had a particular money transfer platform and I had money trapped in it.
And so we acquire all these accounts. We need to keep servicing them because they can get frozen for any number of reasons. Lack of use. Freeze. Change of address. Freeze. Just any damn thing. Not to mention the fact that many of them still operate the minimum deposit thing so you could have several one thousand Nairas scattered across many banks. Beyond annoying. And then now BVN. You might only have to do the data capture in one bank but you have to physically go to all the banks to submit the BVN number given to you. Who has time for this shit? Why would it be so hard for me to go one bank, get verified and then log on to an online portal and submit this number and then it’s left for the banks to liaise among themselves. Why on earth should anyone have to go to several banks, several telecoms offices. Why?
And then this information that is being gathered, recently I had a friend who’s a lawyer on radio talking about data protection and I was appalled to find out that there are actually no laws guiding the capture, storage of and access to these data collected. It’s terribly chilling. Because that’s your whole life out there.
My main concern about the BVN is that the telcos, banks etc seem to have a lot of information about me, but I don’t feel safer – Noelle slinky (Culled from Smooth98.1fm facebook page)
Is it any wonder therefore when people can call a radio station and say that the BVN thing is a sign of the end times, something fantastic about the anti-christ and the mark of the beast and all such.
Even if it’s a sign of the anti-Christ, it’s not something that can be stopped because it’s a prophecy that must be fulfilled. Just get ready. That’s all – Chimenta Samuel Ikechukwu (Culled from Smooth 98.1fm facebook page)
It boils down to the fact that while I believe in data capture and a national database, 1) people need orientation, they need to understand why. 2) What is being done with these data? Is it going to actually help in solving financial crimes? Are we mature enough for this?
There are so many things we don’t know and frankly, it is troubling.
But hey, it’s not only a Nigerian thing so let’s not fret. I remember the whole conspiracy theories that surrounded the ObamaCare, and I couldn’t believe those were Americans talking. What do I know?
I advise you though, signs of end-times or mark of the beast or not, if you like, don’t go and do your registration. You will hear nwee. (The BVN deadline has been extended by months to October 31)
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