CBN to introduce biometric authentication of bank customers in 2015

By The Citizen

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has declared that it will introduce Biometric authentication of bank customers in 2015 using Point Of Sale (POS) and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

This disclosure was made by the CBN governor Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi at the stakeholders sensitisation on the cashless Nigeria programme for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Sanusi said that the introduction of biometric authentication is to address the safety of customers' funds and avoid losses through compromise of Personal Identification Numbers (PIN).

According to him,  'Biometric authentication for POS and ATMs to address safety of customers' funds and avoid losses through compromise of PIN is being considered and to be implemented by 2015.'

Corroborating Sanusi, Chidi Onwealu who represented Eme Eleonu, Head, Shared Services, of the CBN said the financial industry cannot continue to wait forever as they will apply biometric authentication of bank customers.

Onwealu said: 'We have started a financial institutions biometric project. Right now we are capturing. The project has just started and very soon we'll start capturing finger prints of all customers in the financial system.'

This effort he said, will serve 'as a first base to start enabling biometric options and by 2015 we expect that the illiterate trader in Onitsha and the illiterate trader in Kano would not have to come to your bank and you see his signature as irregular because those are the kind of things that stop them from opening accounts.'

He berated banks for giving their customers cumbersome forms to fill. 'They are not comfortable with that so they'll rather have their money under their beds but as soon as we start applying biometric options, all they need is their finger prints to access their funds and so on.'

The CBN governor represented by John Chukwudifu, the FCT branch controller, said the apex bank has taken great steps to gain the confidence of ATM consumers and as such has been able to reduce fraud committed with electronic cards by 90 per cent.

To gain ATM users confidence, the CBN, Sanusi said, had to enforce migration from Magstripe type of debit card to chip and pin (EMV compliance) type of debit card.

As a result of this effort, statistics he said, 'shows that this effort has reduced the fraud incidences by 90 per cent. Many customers are now embracing the use of electronic (ATM and POS) channels in their transaction because of near impossible efforts of would-be fraudsters in being able to clone debit cards to perpetrate fraud as it was the case during the pre-migration era.'

On the introduction of cashless programme in some states and cities in the country, Sanusi said, 'there would be prevalent use of debit cards to perform transactions on ATM, POS and Internet banking, and these transactions would have to pass through public infrastructure which are prone to cyber threats (a source of vulnerability) as being experienced in developed economies.'

He said 'cases of debit and credit cards cloning are vulnerable areas that need urgent attention for the country to reap the benefits of cashless society.'

Another challenge to the cashless programme of the CBN, Sanusi lamented, will be 'displacing cash as the preferred means of payment.'

Nigerians are so attached to using cash that 'the cost of cash to Nigeria's financial system is high and increasing, in fact, direct cost of cash is estimated to reach N192 billion in 2012″ Sanusi said.