CBN introduces e-Referencing to accelerate account opening process

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced electronic referencing to quicken process of opening bank accounts.

The Electronic reference system involves the sending of account opening documents electronically among banks through an internet based portal created and operated by The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS).

In a circular announcing the introduction of the new system, Director, Banking and Payments System, Mr. Dipo Fatokun explained, “The e-Referencing system is a web based automated document management system, designed to process customers account references, and is capable of eliminating the inefficiencies  of the old ways of manual reference processing system.

The implementation of this solution ensures that inter- bank references become faster, more efficient and traceable, by both the presenting and receiving banks. It is also designed to enhance compliance with the existing Know Your Customer (KYC) directives. The e-Reference Portal, which is hosted by NIBSS requires that receiving banks respond to inward references within three (3) working days.”

To open current accounts with banks, prospective bank customers are required to provide two referees. This referees must have current account with either that bank or any other bank. Where the references provided are customers of another bank, the bank will have to send the names of the reference to their banks for confirmation before completing the account opening process. This is usually done by sending the account opening forms to the banks to confirm if the references provided are indeed their customers.

According to the CBN, “Besides high illiteracy level and low confidence in the Financial System, a major reason for this relatively small number of account holders in Nigeria is the inter-bank reference bottleneck which makes it difficult for new accounts to be opened speedily. At times, the prospective bank customers get frustrated and eventually abandon the process of opening a bank account.

“The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) Plc, in fulfilment of  its shared- service mandate  and in conjunction with the Committee of Heads of Bank Operations (CHBO) has agreed to develop an electronic reference (e-Reference) portal, such that account opening processes of Nigerian banks can be fast-tracked with regards to inter- bank referencing.”


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