The $50 million Biometric Solution project instituted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers’ Committee kicked off yesterday in Lagos.
The exercise, which would provide central database for all bank customers across the country, was launched by the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.Speaking during the launching of the project, Sanusi said the innovation remains a milestone in the Nigerian payment system and would be completed in the next 18 months. He explained that henceforth, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Sale (PoS) machines will be biometric-based and would help fix identity challenges facing the banking system.
He said the project will be a game changer for financial inclusion and address issues relating to unified identity for bank customers.
Sanusi said the CBN, the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NICOMSAT) and MainOne is working out modalities that would provide Internet facilities in the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) across the country. He said the CBN Board is working on harmonising budget for the project, adding that the guideline would require the apex bank to pay for the services in the next three to four years.
Sanusi noted that the biometric project, which was the culmination of a two-year long screening exercise, was not in any way incompatible with the Federal Government’s National Identity Card project.
Chairman, Bankers’ Committee Sub-Committee on Biometrics, Godwin Emefiele, said the project remains ambitious and would revolutionalise the banking system.
Emefiele, who is the Group Managing Director, Zenith Bank, said the project will lead to re-setting of credit standard in the banking sector, as well as enhance consumer credit.
“It is a rare opportunity that needed to be embraced. This project has capacity to serve over 160 million people. The good thing is that even when one forgets his/her Personal Identification Number (PIN), once the information is verified, transactions can be done,” he said.
The Managing Director, Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), Ade Shonobi, said the biometric solution is needed to bring sanity to the Nigerian payment system, adding that an effective payment system is key in building the economy.
Managing Director, Dermalog, Gunther Mull, said the company, which is handing the biometric project, is both financially and technically competent to carry out its job. He refuted claims that the company is bankrupt, adding that it has been profitable, growing at over 15 per cent in the last 12 years.