Shock Value

Shock Value

The Nigerian economy, like any other, experiences “shocks”— events or policy decisions that can send a ripple of changes through the system. This column zooms in on these ripples in a range of sectors to explore how and why these shocks matter.

***

To BVN or Not to BVN?

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi is an avid reader seeking insights in unexpected places. Her research interests include economic development, political economy and trade.

Last week, a Justice of the Federal High Court in Abuja reportedly granted an interim order requiring all commercial banks to disclose to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) details of any accounts not yet linked to a Bank Verification Number (BVN). An important part of this order is that money in these accounts will be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government. 

Interestingly, this news has been polarising. On the one hand, some Nigerians are wary of what appears to be an attempt at government expropriation. The original policy only stipulated that holders of accounts unlinked to a BVN after the deadline would be unable to make withdrawals; completely losing all funds in an account after a mere 14-day notice appears to be a step too far.

However, others argue that this is a step in the right direction. After all, BVN registration should be simple: you go to a bank where you have an account, fill out a form, get your photograph and fingerprints taken, and receive your BVN within 24 hours. Because the BVN is unique to an individual, people with multiple accounts only need to go through the registration process once and link the same BVN to all their accounts in other banks.

...
Read More