The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was battling account security challenges. A common issue across all industries, conventional security measures like passwords and PINs were failing, leading to increased fraud.
To deal with financial industry dynamics, the CBN had created the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), which launched the Bank Verification Number (BVN) initiative, a centralized biometric identification system for the banking industry. The BVN process uses demographic data like name and date of birth, as well as biometric data, including fingerprints, signatures, and facial recognition, to set up and establish digital identities for bank customers.
The BVN initiative benefits both customers as well as the country’s banking industry:
- A unique identity, verifiable and acceptable as a means of identification across all Nigerian banks
- Protecting customers against identity theft by shielding their accounts from unauthorized access
- Increasing efficiencies in operations and improving customer service by reducing queues in banks
- Strengthening the Nigerian banking industry by increasing its ability to identify blacklisted customers and mitigate identification and tracking issues related to lending and credit, encouraging retail lending
- Creates the conditions to streamline processes such as payments, whilst enabling the access to other services, such as credits, insurance and pension payment schemas.
Tackling a Major Roadblock with the Right Hardware
But the initiative was running into roadblocks, especially with taking the project to the last mile, the remote regions not covered by the bank’s branch networks. To address this, NIBSS undertook the initiative of procuring the best solutions—lightweight, resilient, durable, mobile—reaching out to experts in identification technology to put it into action.
The project, from its onset, was truly a multi-continental endeavor. 5 Thousand Miles, a company specializing in international business development, identified the opportunities for biometric solutions in Nigeria – especially in the financial services area and in the BVN Ecosystem managed by NIBSS. They challenged Papersoft, a renowned solutions provider in the area of digital identity capture and verification to present solutions suitable to drive the BVN initiative to the next level. After analysis of the on-field challenges, Integrated Biometrics (IB) products proved to be clearly the best solution. Local support, coverage and knowledge was paramount for the work ahead, so leading provider of POS and payment solutions, Global Accelerex, was brought in to create a team that was a guarantee of success.
NIBSS selected IB’s Kojak PL, an FBI Appendix F Certified FAP 60 10-Print roll fingerprint scanner. Small and lightweight (less than 725 grams/1.6 pounds), the Kojak PL is exceptionally robust, fast, and accurate, with a full-featured SDK that enables effective integration into applications requiring certified FAP 60 quality images.
Official Hardware for the BVN Initiative
NIBSS put 5,000 Kojak PL scanners to work—also certifying the Kojak PL as the official hardware for the BVN initiative in Nigeria.
With the new solution, enrollment is simple, fast, and required only one time. Once enrolled, the individual’s BVN is linked to all bank accounts across all Nigerian banks. To perform banking transactions, payments, cash withdrawals or applying for a loan, customers can also use the BVN to authenticate their identity.
Since the program was initiated, NIBSS has reported more than 41 million enrollments as of March 2020, supporting the mission to help African nations on their journeys to developing robust and responsible identity ecosystems.
About Integrated Biometrics
Integrated Biometrics, LLC designs and manufactures FBI-certified fingerprint sensors for law enforcement, military operations, homeland security, national identity, election validation, social services, and a wide range of commercial applications. The company’s patented LES (light emitting sensor) technology enables lightweight scanners that outperform traditional prism-based devices in size, power consumption, portability, and reliability. Identity management solutions providers, government agencies, and corporations around the world rely on Integrated Biometrics’ products to identify, enroll, and verify individual identity quickly and accurately, even in remote locations.