Financial Inclusion is a state where financial services are delivered by a range of providers, mostly the private sector, to reach everyone who could use them. Specifically, it means a financial system that serves as many people as possible in a country. In recent time, financial Inclusion has assumed a critical development policy priority in many countries, particularly in developing economies. (cbn.gov.ng). Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way- (worldbank.org).
With the aim to “make financial services accessible at affordable costs to all individuals and businesses, irrespective of net worth and size respectively”, financial inclusion is important for the development of any economy. It means that people who have better access to financial services through traditional, bank accounts and digital payments have greater control over their money, and their savings, securing business loans, insurance and are better prepared for financial emergencies. Also, this would provide the possibilities for the creation of a large depository of savings, investable funds, investment and therefore global wealth generation. In other words, access to financial services, that are well suited for low-income earners promote enormous capital accumulation, credit creation and investment boom.
Over the years, the government and monetary authorities have introduced varying policies aimed at deepening financial inclusion within the economy. The policies ranged from various institutional involvements such as the establishment of community and microfinance banks to specific policies and programs designed to facilitate access of the financially excluded to formal financial services. The private banks, on the other hand, have also been engaged in innovations and activities aimed at getting more people involved in the financial inclusion process, though their level of involvement have always been moderated to the extent that profitability is enhanced.
BIOMETRIC BANK VERIFICATION NUMBER (BVN) ENROLLMENT
Due to the prevalence of identity theft, cybercrime ATM fraud, etc the need for greater security for access to sensitive personal information in the banking stem arose. To meet this need, the Central Bank of Nigeria through the Banker’ Committee and in collaboration with all banks in Nigeria on February 14, 2014 launched a centralized biometric identification system for the banking industry tagged Bank Verification Number (BVN). Another objective of the centralized biometric identification system is to reduce the number of unbanked citizens in Nigeria, thereby furthering the cause of financial inclusion.
This is another important step the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has used to avoid losses through the compromise of personal identification numbers, to include illiterate persons in the banking system, strengthen the security of banking transactions and to ensure that fraudulent transactions are minimized, if not totally eliminated. The program is aimed at extending financial services access to Nigeria’s 70 million unbanked citizens by the year 2020.
Biometrics technology (the process of verifying your identity using your measurements or other unique characteristics of your body) is widely accepted as the standard for verification because they are not easily stolen or duplicated. We can see this already working its way into our daily lives; from smartphone “touch ID” to cars that unlock with your handprint. It is no surprise then that many financial institutions and governments have already embraced biometric authentication as the standard for verifying the identity of customers opening accounts, requesting services, and making payments
BIOMETRIC BVN ENROLLMENT CAN PROMOTE FINANCIAL INCLUSION:
The BVN as a means of promoting financial inclusion uses biometric information as a means of identification and verification of all individuals with a Nigerian bank account such that one can be able to open a new full-fledged bank account from the comfort of one’s home or office. It is a means of authenticating customer’s identity at point of transactions. It is not just another registration exercise because it has curbed all the tedious processes involved in opening bank accounts.
This program is a major way of reaching the unbanked citizens in Nigeria especially in the remote areas where they have to spend so much to transport themselves to the nearest bank to them, it is advantageous because it has a unified database therefore there would be no need for the numerous documents such as utility bills and other form of identification after the enrolment has been done. Biometric enrolment is helpful to people who cannot read and write because their finger prints and pictures serve the same purpose as signatures. Also, multiple account holders are covered with a single registration in any of the banks where they have accounts.
Financial inclusion seeks to promote the betterment of the world’s population through the use of financial services and tools available in an increasingly digital-based economy. To this effect the Biometrics BVN enrolment program cannot be underestimated, this program has a major impact in the financial system of Nigeria, given that with little access to banks, especially in rural areas, underbanked users carry out most transactions in cash or checks, which makes them vulnerable to theft and street frauds, even access to bank locations for conducting transactions like cash deposit, check cashing, money order and funds transfer may come at high costs in terms of banking fees. However, with the BVN enrolment program all the cumbersome banking processes are curbed and the banking system made easier and effective.