Nigeria Banks are considering to use biometric information, fingerprints in particular, to replace signatures and PINs for authentication in some cases. In an effort to improve service efficiency in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will implement the capturing and storage of biometric data for bank customers. Biometric data will help bank customers gain confidence in banking services as solutions to authentication and fraud issues will be tackled better with biometrics, said Malam Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of CBN.
“The underlining issue facing many banks in Nigeria is lack of unique identity of Nigerian customers.So, the first thing we need for any kind of transformation in the banking industry around money laundering, around fraud, around financial inclusion is to be able to properly identify customers,”, he said.
The biometrics will also be useful for everyone in the banking industry as other banks will be able to verify customers’ credit history and credibility. Currently in Nigeria there are cases where customers take loans from one bank, change identity then take another loan from a second bank and so on. The beauty of biometrics, as the Governor said, is that “biometrics gives you a unique identification because you cannot change your finger.
Other problems that biometrics will help solve are issues regarding irregular signatures, not being able to remember PINs for ATM services, forgetting vital documents like checkbooks or IDs at home, and related authentication issues. The database for biometrics is said to be completed in the next 90 days and at least a branch of every bank be linked to the database. The project that is to cost more than $50 million at the initial stage will see the banks and other financial institution share the cost of implementation.
“Financial inclusion is what the CBN is pursuing, and what we are trying to do is to have a unique identification for our customers. What we are trying to achieve today is a situation where every bank customer is known for who he is in every bank of every branch as the same person. So it will help us to better identify our customers, and help us to align our payment system and achieve financial inclusion,’’ said The CBN Deputy Director, Head Shared Services, Chidi Omeono.