The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, NIBSS, has released a data showing that banks lost two million customers between 2016 and 2017.
The total number of bank accounts dropped to 59 million in 2017 from 61 million in 2016.
The number of active bank accounts also reduced by 1.5 million, dropping from 65 million to 63.5 million.
The report showed that linked BVN accounts grew from 26 million in 2016, to 41.3 million in 2017.
According to a banking industry source, the reduction in banking customers is connected to the federal government’s declaration to fight corruption.
“When Buhari assumed office, many people abandoned their accounts, especially civil servants because of fear of investigation,” the source said.
“While some out rightly closed down their accounts, others opted for gradual withdrawal so as not to raise alarm.”
The source, who works at one of the top five banks in the country, also blamed the BVN for low patronage of banking products, especially in the rural areas, where awareness is very low.
Olaitan Alagbe, a bank customer, told newsmen that she closed some of her accounts due to unnecessary and illegal charges by banks.
“First of all, the interest rate is next to nothing, so there is little reason to keep your money at the bank when you can turn it over doing other businesses,” she said.
However, a source at the CBN told newsmen that the reduction in the number of banking customers was caused mainly by the introduction of BVN.
“The reduction may not necessarily be a bad thing. For example, many people opened accounts using different variations of their names.
“So with the introduction of BVN, such customers were forced to regularise their names, however, some opted to close down their accounts, which resulted in the reduction of active bank accounts and customers.”
The CBN source was, however, optimistic that the financial inclusion strategy of the bank would succeed in bringing in more people into the formal banking system.