Nigeria’s consumer banking viable as ID theft drops, says Citigroup

Bank Registration Verification

Bank Registration Verification

Citigroup Inc. has assessed Nigeria’s plan to crackdown on identity theft as a strategic attempt at making the economy more attractive for consumer banking business in Africa’s most-populous country.

The U.S. lender is “looking at” rolling out consumer banking in Nigeria because individuals dealing with banks in the continent’s biggest economy are increasingly “who they say they are,” the Chief Executive Officer of Citibank Nigeria Ltd., Akinsowon Dawodu, said in an interview.

Akinsowon pointed out that a lack of security around identification has been an impediment to personal banking in the country in the past.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has stepped up biometric number scheme, requiring customers to provide fingerprint identification, a system it started introducing with commercial lenders in February 2014.

A deadline for customers to get bank verification numbers has been extended to October 31, so that Nigerians living abroad can enroll, with non-compliance leading to loss of access to the customers’ respective accounts.

The system, combined with a growing network of credit bureaus that collect information on customers, “makes the consumer proposition fairly viable for an organization like ourselves. We are looking at the opportunities in that space,” Dawodu said.

An entry into consumer banking would enable Citigroup to market products like personal loans and mortgages in the West African nation of 170 million people, where the New York-based bank already provides corporate banking services.

The economy in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, is forecast by the government to grow 3.9 percent this year.

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