The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), commercial banks and mobile operators in the country on Tuesday unveiled plans to take the Bank Verification Number (BVN) enrolment exercise to the grassroots.

Under the arrangement, which is part of their efforts to deepen financial inclusion at the grassroots, the regulators and operators will open registration desks in all the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country to capture the unbanked population in the financial system net.

Already, with over 70,000 new financial access points created in the country since the Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility (SANEF) was created, it is expected that the exercise will be seamlessly driven.

A member of the Technical Committee on SANEF, Mr. Bolaji Lawal, who spoke on the initiative in Lagos, explained that with 33 million bank customers enrolled in the BVN currently, the group planned to increase the registered customers to 70 million by 2020.

According to him, the 10,000 remote BVN devices ordered by NIBSS are currently being deployed to banks, mobile money operators and the super agents to facilitate the implementation of the plan, amongst other functions

He explained: “We are committed to enrol 40 million new unique BVNs between now and year 2020: 10 million in 2018, 15 million in 2019 and 15 million in 2020. NIBSS will pay agents N100 for every unique BVN enrolled.”

Lawal, who said that nine operators who were parties to the project had been empowered with N4.5 billion, also disclosed that three mobile money operators namely, Paga, Cellulant, eTranzact, had been engaged just as Interswitch, Capricorn, Innovectives, Inlaks, Unified Payments and Xpress Payment, had joined the project as super agents.

To attract the financially excluded into the system, he said that the initiators would create a savings account product with insurance, pension and microcredit, amongst others as its key features.

Similarly, the SANEF member also explained that the facilitators are liaising with the relevant regulators, including the CBN and NAICOM, to secure approval and launch the product by October this year.

Lawal listed other products planned for the project as including micro retail loans, micro-retail savings, retail insurance and micro pensions.

SANEF is a project powered by the CBN, NIBSS, banks, licenced mobile money operators and shared agents with the primary objective of fast-tracking the nation’s financial inclusion drive.

It involves on-boarding 40 million low income and un-served Nigerians into the financial system, increasing financial access points from the current 50,000 to 500,000 by year2020 and deepening access to mobile and digital financial products and services.

In addition, it also seeks to deepen financial inclusion through an integrated ecosystem with strong regulatory oversight, consumer protection and interoperable payment systems with limited concentration risk as well as create a platform for Nigerian owned financial services companies to grow, whilst empowering and creating jobs for Nigerians.