Financial technology experts have blamed corruption for the N3tn that trapped in accounts that have not been linked to the Bank Verification Numbers of their owners, and asked the Central Bank of Nigeria to urgently confiscate the funds or risk losing them to cyberattacks.
The experts said that privileged information available to them indicated that certain hackers, with collaborators from within the country and across the world, were developing a ransomware to attack banks’ data systems to steal the funds.
Speaking at a CxO roundtable facilitated by Ericsson and the International Data Corporation in Lagos on Wednesday, the experts stated that some of the abandoned funds were proceeds of corruption and needed to be cleared from the banking system.
According to the Senior Assistant to the Minister of Communications on Digital Transformation, Mr. Akim Yusuf, “the corruption that has led to the trapped N3tn is being perpetrated by Nigerians who have no self-control.”
He said, “The antidote will be to develop institutional mechanisms. We need to put in place mechanisms to monitor the flow of funds in the public sector. This is why we have introduced policies like the Treasury Single Account and the Biometric Verification Numbers.
“We need to increase the level of digital tracking of funds to curb corruption. We plan to migrate all government services online. This will minimise the use of cash, which encourages bribery.”
Yusuf said that there was also the need to consolidate and harmonise the multiple biometric data systems in the country to make it difficult to hide illicit funds.
“Digital transformation will drive all of these,” he added.
On his part, the Managing Director, Ericsson Nigeria, Rutman Rutger, said the firm put together the event to provide a platform for dialogue between all stakeholders in Nigeria’s technology and financial sectors “towards digital transformation in Nigeria and curbing corruption in the financial technology sector.”
“Since 2014, we have positively impacted 89 million people through our technology for good programmes,” he added.
The Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc, which is saddled with the responsibility of coordinating the BVN registration exercise, stated in April that it had registered 29 million Deposit Money Bank accountholders.
The NIBSS had said in December last year that 46 million bank accounts were still without the BVN. Financial experts reasoned that should the CBN remove N3tn from the banks, this would create a serious liquidity challenge in the banking system.