As Identity theft and fraudulent transactions gain grounds in the global banking system, the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), is collaborating with all Central Banks within West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ/Zone) to launch the Bank Verification Number (BVN).
According to the WAMI, the move is expected to ensure that individuals involve in banking transactions, have one unique number which will be used in all transactions irrespective of the bank they deal with.
Sources close to the WAMI revealed that, the mandate requires that, all centrals within the West African Monetary Zone including the Bank of Ghana (BOG) will have to implement the system (BVN) which works by recording fingerprints and a facial photograph of the client.
As the Institute which is to undertake technical preparations for the establishment of a common West African Central Bank and the launching of a single currency for the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ/Zone) comes close to achieving its targets, the mandate to implement BVN is to reduce fraud in the banking system in the region which is prevalent in the region.
BVN, is a biometric identification system implemented to curb or reduce illegal banking transactions by ensuring that citizens or bank customers are given a unique identification number which is used in banking transactions.
Our source within the WAMI, disclosed that, the BVN is one important project that must be achieved among member countries which are Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Gambia and Saria Lone.
At the Fifth Meeting of the Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS single currency programme in Accra, President Nana Akufo Addo pointed out, that the implementation of common currency for ECOWAS member states cannot be rescheduled beyond the 2020 deadline date.
According to him, it is imperative for countries in the West African Sub-region to work at achieving the convergence criteria required for the implementation of the (ECO) single currency in two years.
Currently Nigeria is the only country within the sub-region that is implementing the BVN which they say has help immensely in preventing and reducing fraud within the financial services sector, especially in area of banking.
If BVN implemented, it means for as long as one is engaged in banking, you will be given the BVN which will be used in all banking transactions like loans and opening of accounts.
In Ghana people are used to opening bank accounts with multiple banks and taking loans which sometimes is even difficult for these banks to compare notes which is linked to the high Non-Performing Loans (NPL).
This is because due to ‘service client privilege’ until a bank decides to submit details of customers who are loan defaulters to the Credit Bureau, it’s almost impossible for the sister bank to know if a loan seeker has already defaulted in loan in another bank, which makes the person flagged as high risk.
Also, fraud within the financial or banking sector seem to be on the high, as cyber security experts have warned that Ghana stand to lose some US$100 million from cyber-crime in 2018, if pragmatic measures are not put in place to minimize it the threat.
The Managing Partner at cyber security firm, Delta 3 International, Del Aden, told the press that, the incident of cybercrime in Ghana will continue to rise unless businesses especially the financial sector put effective counter measures in place.
Again, a report released by Kenyan-based IT firm, Serianu Limited, revealed that the Ghanaian economy lost up to US$50 million to cyber-crime in 2016.
But what is interesting is that Ghana currently is getting ready to implement the Ghana Card which will replace the sectoral identity cards in circulation and become the only card to be used in transactions where identification is required as provided by law.
With a 128-kilobyte capacity, the Ghana Card will enable other stakeholders to run their applications on the national identity card through the establishment of a credible national database, using the National Identification System (NIS) as the primary identifier, as prescribed by law.
The Act has done away with the use of voter’s identity cards (IDs), drivers’ license and baptismal certificates as proof of citizenship but however maintains the use of birth certificates and passports.