CBN orders the Use Of Customer Social Media Handles On Bank Account For Identification

In a bid to restructure the customer identification system within its regulatory remit, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)directed financial institutions to begin using the social media handles of customers as one of the means to verify their identity.

While explaining that this requirement is to strengthen Customer Due Diligence (CDD) regulations and deepen the identification process in the banking system, CBN explained that the primary objective is to further the compliance of financial institutions under its regulatory purview with relevant provisions of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, CBN (Anti-Money Laundering, Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Countering Proliferation Financing of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Financial Institutions) Regulations, 2022, and international best practices.


The new regulation, contained in Circular number FPR/DIR/PUB/CIR/007/076 dated June 20, 2023, stipulates as follows for individuals under the customer identification column: “legal name and any other names used (such as maiden name), permanent address (full physical address), residential address (where the customer can be located), telephone number, e-mail address, and social media handle; date and place of birth, Bank Verification Number, Tax Identification Number, nationality, occupation, public position held, and name of employer.” Isn’t it redundant and repetitious imposing these multiple requirements on the bank customer when two or three of them could suffice?


By this circular, banks and other financial institutions licensed by the CBN are now required to observe the CDD measures when establishing business relationships; and when carrying out occasional transactions above the applicable and designated threshold of $1,000 or it’s equivalent in other currencies or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time, including where the transaction is carried out in a single or several transactions or operations that appear to be linked. The measures are also required when carrying out occasional transactions that are wire transfers, including cross-border and domestic transfers between financial institutions, and when credit or debit cards are used as a payment method to effect money transfers.


Players in the capital market have hailed the move as one that would go a long way in preventing fraudulent activities.

The CDD regulation favours digital lenders who look beyond collaterals when giving out loans but rely on social media activities to decide on whether to approve a loan request or not.

Given that millions of Nigerians live out their lives on their social media accounts, by monitoring a prospective loanee’s posts, the lender assesses their stability, ability and willingness to pay.

As of January 2023, figures from Statista have it that 31.6 million Nigerians are active on social media. On its part, DataReportal reports that as of early this year, 21.75 million Nigerians are on Facebook, 7.10 million use Instagram, 7.50 million are on LinkedIn, 12.35 million are on Snapchat while 4.95 million are on Twitter.

Many digital lending firms have been forced out of business by swindlers and bad debtors, leading to the loss of jobs and investors’ funds.

Hence, introducing further measures that would enhance the carrying out of due diligence in Nigeria’s fledging credit market and improve credit risk isn’t entirely a bad idea.

However, Naija News is worried about what the new regulation portends for financial inclusion in the country.

We fear that financial institutions may not apply discretion or grant waivers if an unbanked customer is unable to provide their social media handles. There are millions of petty traders and market women across the country who have no business with social media, their phones aren’t even internet enabled.

Does the CBN now prefer for these categories of persons to remain unbanked? This can’t be if the central bank is serious about carrying out its monetary responsibilities!

It is our considered opinion that the new regulation should have been rather focused on providing proper criteria for the extant Know Your Customer (KYC).

Royal News does not believe that the CBN has maximized previous data it has collected from Nigerians to warrant this latest requirement for social media handles.

It all started a little over a decade ago when the apex bank demanded the change of regular account numbers to what they called the NUBAN. Later, the Bank Verification Number (BVN) was made mandatory for customers, then the Tax Identification Numbers (TIN). This is in addition to the email addresses, phone numbers, and residential addresses through which the CBN uses banks to extract information from Nigerians.

CBN must be careful not to engage in illegality. The Nigerian Data Protection Act (NDPA) 2023 stipulates basic principles that must be met by whoever wants to collect citizens’ data.

This is captured under data minimization whereby financial institutions are not allowed to collect data beyond the purpose for which such information was intended.

Even if the CBN argues that the collection of bank customers’ social media handles is for the public interest, which could include monitoring some transactions, the customers should be properly informed.

This is more so in this era where pieces of information about people’s lives are mined for unholy purposes.

Only yesterday, the Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) disclosed that it is investigating three banks, a university and other suspects over unauthorised access to confidential information.

CBN must be told in clear terms that its new regulations and directive for banks to obtain details of customers’ social media accounts infringe on Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy. Sections 39 and 37 of the revised 1999 Constitution guarantee the right of every Nigerian citizen to freedom of expression and privacy.

Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights also guarantee the right to freedom of expression.

Article 17 of the Covenant also guarantees the right to privacy. The apex bank must therefore refrain from imposing on financial institutions a regulation that is inconsistent and incompatible with the rule of law.


Nigerians cannot be blamed for being suspicious and critical of this policy that requires bank customers to submit their social media handles for identification. Memories are still fresh of how CBN issues Post-No-Debit (PND) orders on the bank accounts of customers perceived to have spearheaded the EndSARS protest of 2020. Three weeks after issuing the PND order on the 20 account holders, the apex bank went on to obtain an ex parte order from a Federal High Court freezing the said accounts for 90 days on the spurious allegation that they were suspected of terrorism financing.

In the end, the court unfroze the bank accounts in what CBN termed, “the spirit of reconciliation” without the affected persons getting compensatory damages.


Nigeria remains a democratic not despotic state, hence the central bank must rescind this requirement that infringes on the constitutional right of citizens to freely express themselves through social media without fear of persecution or a political witch hunt.

The acting Governor of the CBN should spare himself this distraction and not create the impression that he is doing the bidding of President Tinubu who as a candidate during the 2023 electioneering disclosed, “I don’t read social media anymore; they abuse the hell out of me. If I read it, I get high blood pressure and angry”.

Let the requirement for customers to provide their social media handles under the CDD be voluntary rather than mandatory!

#Headlines #CBN #CUSTOMERS

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.