Bank customers drop by 2 million in Nigeria

By Chika Otuchikere
Nigerian banks suffered a loss of over two million customers between 2016 and 2017. This is in spite of efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to encourage financial inclusion. The total number of bank customers dropped from 61 million in 2016 to 59 million in 2017.
This was the finding of a report from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), which showed that the number of active bank accounts also dropped from 65 million to 63.5 million, a loss by 1.5 million.
The report, however, noted that the banking sector made great strides in linking customersa�� account using the Bank Verification Number (BVN). It showed that linked BVN accounts grew from 26 million in 2016, to 41.3 million in 2017.
The decline in the number of active bank accounts, some Nigerians have averred may not be unconnected to the ongoing fight against corruption and the inability to link some of the accounts to BVN.
Also, the widely celebrated crash of many Ponzi schemes in the periods under review had been associated with the drop in the bank accounts. According to some observers, many Nigerians opened several bank accounts in order to operate the schemes but when the schemes collapsed, they had to discard the accounts.
Some analysts have also attributed the low patronage to the excessive charges on bank accounts which many customers feel is short-changing them.
An official of the CBN who craved anonymity linked the reduction in the number of banking customers to the introduction of BVN. According to the official, since they could not ascribe one BVN to accounts with different names, they had no option but to abandon the accounts.
Another official of commercial bank traced most of the accounts to salary accounts whose owners were no longer employed and so could not operate the accounts.

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