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CBN To Freeze Bank Accounts without BVN, NIN from March 2024

The central bank said the development was part of its effort in promoting financial system stability.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Friday said it has become mandatory for all Tier-1 bank accounts and wallets for individuals to have either the Bank Verification Number (BVN) or National Identity Number (NIN) or both.

Owing to this, the central bank warned that effective March 1, 2024, all funded accounts or wallets without BVN or NIN shall be placed on “Post No Debit or Credit” and no further transactions permitted.

It said BVN or NIN attached to and/or associated with all accounts or wallets must be electronically revalidated by January 31, 2024.

The apex bank, stated this in a circular dated December 1, 2023, and addressed to all commercial, merchant, non-interest and payment service banks; as well as Other Financial Institutions (OFIs), and mobile money operators, which was signed jointly by the CBN Director, Payments System Management Department, Chibuzo Efobi and Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Haruna Mustafa.

The apex bank noted that henceforth, all existing customer accounts or wallets for individuals with validated BVN shall be profiled in the NIBSS Industry Customer Account Database (ICAD) immediately and within 24 hours of opening accounts/wallets.

The circular highlighted key amendment to Section 1.5.3 of the Regulatory Framework for Bank Verification Number (BVN) Operations and Watch-List for the Nigerian Banking Industry (The Guidelines).

The central bank said the development was part of its effort in promoting financial system stability by strengthening the Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures in financial institutions under its purview.

Among other requirements, the CBN said it remained mandatory for Tiers 2 and 3 accounts and wallets for Individual accounts to have BVN and NIN.

It stated that the process for account opening shall commence by electronically retrieving BVN or NIN related information from the NIBSS’ BVN or NIMC’s NIN databases and for same to become the primary information for onboarding of new customers.

The CBN also ordered for the immediate implementation of the new policy, stressing that no new Tier-1 accounts and wallets should be opened without BVN or NIN.

Also, for all existing Tier1 accounts/wallets without BVN or NIN, the central bank said effectively, any unfunded account/wallet shall be placed on “Post No Debit or Credit” until the new process is satisfied.

The CBN added that to ensure uniform and full compliance with the new processes, the Executive Compliance Officers, Chief Compliance Officers or Heads of the Compliance Functions had been advised to acquaint themselves with Guidance Notes which becomes applicable to all institutions regulated by the CBN.

The bank said a comprehensive BVN and NIN audit shall be conducted, adding that where breaches were identified, appropriate sanctions would be applied.

The CBN further advised all financial institutions under its regulatory purview to apply strict compliance on restrictions on Tier1 accounts/wallets as they relate to limits on transaction values and cumulative balances.

James Emejo in Abuja

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