The West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) is leading the implementation of a project aimed at creating an interoperable unique digital ID for banking and a harmonised customer verification network for four West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) countries including The Gambia.
The new bank ID system will also leverage the national identity systems of the concerned nations and help them in their efforts to enhance financial integration.
According to a press release, the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional entity of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), is making available the sum of $8 million to get the project done in The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The funds were approved by the Board of the institution on 29 March.
The project, expected to commence in July, will be implemented with the collaboration of the central banks of these countries.
The main purpose of the new bank ID system is to enable the linkage of bank accounts across different financial service providers in what is seen as a financial inclusion push.
More than 53 financial service providers will be part of the system which will be built to enable them carry out Know Your Customer (KYC) checks, anti-fraud operations, reduce debt payment defaults, and boost cordial relations among the service providers.
Also, the system, according to its implementers, is to enhance the efficiency of the financial systems of these countries with the goal of increasing access to finance and ramp up monetary integration with one another.
“The Unique Bank Identification (UBI) and Digital Interoperability project was borne from the success of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria. The BVN, an 11-digit unique identity for each individual across the Nigerian Banking industry, is tied to all bank accounts and has resulted in a drastic reduction in electronic banking fraud, non-performing loans and elimination of ghost names from the civil service payroll,” said WAMI director general Olorunsola E. Olowofeso.
Also praising the move is the AfDB director for Financial Sector Development Ahmed Attout who underlined that a secure bank ID system is important in “building financial consumer access and trust and overall development of the financial sector.”