The Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers Committee on Tuesday sealed a biometric solution pact with a German Firm, Dermalog, for the development of a payment system that would be driven by fingerprints.
The move, according to the Governor, CBN, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, will help to revolutionise the country’s payment system.
For instance, unlike the current practice where different instruments are used as means of identification, bank customers will from 2014 be identified through their fingerprints.
Sanusi, while speaking at the signing of the agreement, which was held at the central bank’s headquarters in Abuja, noted that the system would become operational on February 14, 2014.
The move followed the recommendation of a sub-committee chaired by the Group Managing Director, Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
The committee, made up of the Group Managing Directors of Access Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, United Bank for Africa Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc and Skye Bank Plc, had shortlisted Dermalog as the company to develop a database for the banking sector.
Emefiele said, “The company that was awarded the contract has been given a very ambitious deadline, and before the contract was awarded, it agreed that it would deliver in 90 days.
“The first phase of the project will connect the central data to the banks as well as the central bank and the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System. We believe that the company will do so, and by February 14, 2014, we are all very optimistic and looking forward for a gift from the banking industry.
“The cost of the project is above $50m and the banks, in their wisdom and in line with their collaborative efforts, are going to be sharing the cost of the project, and no customer is going to be charged for this project.”
Explaining the reason for the project, Sanusi said it would help to provide a single biometric database that would serve the purpose of authentication as well as address the issues of money laundering, fraud, credit extension and financial inclusion.
He said, “The vision is that this will go beyond the banks and it is a very tight deadline that I have set for the committee and the committee has discussed with Dermalog; and in three months, we can officially say that every single Nigerian bank is connected to the system; and hopefully in the coming months, we will expect every customer of every branch of every bank in Nigeria to have complied to this, but it goes beyond the banking system.
“We have about a thousand microfinance banks; we have customers of pension fund administrators; we have customers of insurance companies; we have people who deal with the stock market, and the vision for this is that everyone that deals with the financial system should have his biometric data captured, and this will be used for identification, verification and authentication.”
Sanusi said the project would not have any negative impact on the national identity card project, adding that the biometric database of the banking sector would help to complement the Federal Government’s identity management project.
He said, “For a long time, we have been waiting for the national identity card system and progress is being made, and I will like to use this opportunity to let everybody understand that the banking industry project is not in any way incompatible with the national identity process.”