The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it has placed 7,552 Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) on its watchlist for fraudulent transactions, just as the apex bank Digital Currency(CBDC) known as eNaira, has recorded 1.4 million transactions to date, translating to 100 per cent increase compared to 700,000 transactions in November 2022. Also it said that Nigeria is moving rapidly towards cardless and other contactless payment options, including QR Codes, NFC, among others for seamless financial transactions in the country. Speaking in Calabar, Cross River State on the theme “Implementing a Robust Payment Architecture Prospects, Opportunities and Challenges”, the governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele said, the Nigeria payment system landscape has particularly continued to record significant changes and development.
Represented by the director of Monetary Policy, Dr Hassan Mahmud, Emefiele stated that, since its launch, the apex bank has continued to modify the features of eNaira to make it more accessible to a wide range of users. “Today, one does not need a smartphone to use the eNaira as it has become compatible with all generations of mobile devices (old and new). Till date, over 1.4 million transactions have passed through the eNaira platform,” he added. Saying the advent of COVID-19, no doubt, triggered rapid advancements in financial technology, leading to speedy digitisation of money and finance, he stressed that, the apex bank took advantage of the opportunity by launching the eNaira in October 2021. The eNaira, he noted, was developed to broaden the payment possibilities of Nigerians and foster digital financial inclusion, with potential for fast-tracking intergovernmental and social transfers. The CBN governor also said that the total enrollment of BVN as at March 31, 2023 stood at 57.43 million, adding that, the BVN has also helped the industry in investigating fraud and other related crimes.
“The BVN is supporting the development of credit profiles for banking customers, which will assist in improving access to credit for credit-worthy borrowers by banks. BVN has continued to feature in our KYC requirements as part of plans to ease the constraint associated with poor identification of banking customers. We have continued to support the aggressive enrollment of prospective banking customers in the informal sector onto the BVN system,” he said. Emefiele noted that, cyber threats and fraud activities of fraudsters continue to threaten the resilience of the payment platforms and that the confidence of the public is impacted by these activities. He disclosed that there are collaborative effort between the Central Bank of Nigeria and other players in the industry to curtail the nefarious activities of these fraudsters. To him, “in response to the challenges posed by cyber threats, the CBN is addressing these hiccups with the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF), payment card industry data security standard, the financial industry cybersecurity fusion centre and other initiatives against cybersecurity and fraud in Nigeria.”
Promising that the bank will also continue to adopt a collaborative approach to achieve minimal cybersecurity threats in the payments system, he said: “a holistic mechanism for addressing cybersecurity threats requires policy and operational actions by all stakeholders. “As you are aware, effective January 2023, the Bank issued a Risk-Based Cyber-Security Framework and Guidelines for Other Financial Institutions, to ensure their operational resilience in the face of cyber-security threats.
In his paper, the director of Payment Systems Management, CBN, Musa Jimoh, who was represented by the deputy director, Payment Systems, Adefuye Adeyemi, revealed that, 7,552 on BVN watchlist for fraud-related transactions. According to him, the centralisation of the BVN has enabled the CBN to track fraudulent individuals and entities who have engaged in forgery, compromise, complicity, fraudulent duplicate enrolment and any fraudulent infraction with and without monetary value. Speaking further on the cardless and other contactless payment options, he said, the banking industry is quickly evolving towards cardless and other contactless payment options, adding that the regulator has issued robust regulations to standardise operations of contactless payments in Nigeria.
Through contactless payments, he noted that, financial transactions can be consummated without physical contact between the payer and acquiring devices, even as it is an innovative payment option for safe and efficient conduct of low-value, large-volume payments. This, alongside other payment initiatives, he stressed, have helped open a vista of new opportunities in the payment ecosystem, saying, with these revolutionary technological developments, the market has witnessed the deployment of new payment solutions. “Artificial intelligence, quantum computing and contactless payments are some of the areas creating new opportunities for operators. The Payments System Vision (PSV) 2025, launched recently, also contains several recommendations aimed at driving implementation of some of the latest technologies to ensure the system’s resilience and safety,” he emphasised. Stressing that the Nigerian payments and financial services sector is ranked among the best in terms of innovation, regulation and resilience, he noted that, to sustain the successes achieved, the support of all financial institutions and stakeholders is imperative. In this regard, he said, the CBN stand ready to continue to strengthen the institutional and regulatory frameworks that would encourage further development of the payments system and promote the usage of secure and credible electronic products as stipulated in the PSV 2025 strategic plan.