OoTheNigerian

sometimes, I make a lot of sense.

Nigeria’s BVN Policy and ONE Matter Arising

30 June 2015 by Oo Nwoye

Nigeria’s Central Bank instituted a policy that requires a SINGLE identifier (BVN – Bank Verification Number) for every banking customer in the Nigerian banking system. Today is the deadline for participation and after which, you will not be able to access your money without it.

On the surface, this is a GREAT idea and not different from the SSN (Social Security Number) system used in the US banking system. If you ask anyone the reason for this, they will list out the upsides to having a biometrically verified identity especially in the banking system.
They may also tell you that it helps in:

  • Prevention of fraud (using different identities to open accounts) which will help with
  • Ensuring a valid credit monitoring system (if you are banned from a bank for defaulting, another bank should have that information)
  • Ensuring tax compliance.

However I am VERY uncomfortable with it and that has to do with data protection in Nigeria or should I say a lack of it?

The strength of a chain is determined by its weakest link.

The system that makes it easy for FIRS to monitor all the accounts you have access to, also makes it easy for unscrupulous people to have the same access. My issue is, what systems are in place that prevents the unscrupulous access.

Let me try to illustrate

Before and After BVN

Before and After BVN


In the example above we have our Magnate, Tolu with 6 accounts in the Nigerian banking system. We all know him as Tolu Ogunlesi and as the Founder of AyeDee Limited. Maybe some have seen his passport and know his other name to be Chukwuma (it is)

Here are the ‘right’ use cases of the BVN as being sold to us

If Tolu Ogunlesi is found to be a member of any type of cabal and all his assets are to be seized, presently his ₦ 2 Million in GTB, ₦19k in Access and his $700 in Union Bank would be at risk. However, as we can see from his accounts opened with aliases, the man will still be balling.

or

When Tolu an Instagram Celebrity and Private jet hopper declares Personal Income Tax on the amounts in the previous paragraph, “nothing can happen” since the FIRS would not be aware of any other source of income. They have no idea who Chuks Ogunlesi is after all.

With the BVN system, all the accounts he is a signatory to are tied to a SINGLE identifier 234666419 . With a single query, the list of all his bank accounts would be pulled up. So there is no way to hide if the good guys come for the bad guy Tolu.

However, risk is not about when things go right. HOW about when they go wrong?

If some guys decide that “this Tolu sef too dey do sef” or wonder “what is this Tolu feeling like sef because he has over 100k Twitter followers” (Any thing can trigger anger over here) and decide to kpake him then wonder what his ransom should be, there will be no need for an ATM card to know how much he has. All they need to so is collect his BVN find out his worth and ask for the 50% of all his monies as their share.

Ransoms can be more scientific/formularized. “Make we collect only 50% of what that guy owns”

In theory, this should not happen but we all are aware that there is ZERO security on biometric data collected in Nigeria. Do I need to remind you how easy it is to access the SIM registration database? or how available our voter registration database is?

Think for a minute, did you see any form of security when you went to register for your BVN? Now when the database is synced, the adhoc 50k/month staff at GTBank Oshogbo has access to it. Likewise the chap in the Aguleri , Nguru, Otoueke or gasp BENIN!! branch.

I really do not have power to fight this BVN system however, if there is anyone out there who can, I’d like you to find out the following.

  1. Is there ANY system/person that can determine all your bank accounts with the BVN?
  2. Who has access to that system and what is the procedure to having that access?
  3. Has there been an external audit (preferably international) of the system as a whole to assess the security risks of the BVN system?

Right now, I no too hold so I am not really worried or affected. But one needs to prepare for one’s future :D.

BTW, I looked around and could not see any Data Protection Law for Nigeria although I came across a bill trying to establish the Data protection Office.

Thanks Boro for helping reduce the typos in this post.

7 comments | Categories: Commentary, Nigeria | Tags: , , ,

Tomato Jos’ Mira is Showing True Hustle.

16 May 2015 by Oo Nwoye

Tomato Farmers (except the wannabe fresh boy Uzoma holding the hoe). Mira is bottom right.

While million of Nigerians claim “no work” American HBS Alumni, Mira Mehta left the US to hustle tomatoes in Nassarawa.

She is founder of Tomato Jos

When she cleans out in the forthcoming agrarian revolution you’ll begin to hear them lament “because she is oyibo” and rally for “patriotic protectionism”.

Presently, I am in so much awe with here bravery in a country where we, the pseudo elites refuse to live anywhere outside our semi town cites.

NYSC has given Nigerians the opportunity to discover opportunities outside where fate and education placed them but they will cry until they have been reposted to Abuja or Lagos.

Mira is the role model young Nigerians need.

Still on the topic of the farming hustle, this is a great nairaland thread you should peruse.

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A Polite Rant: How to Use Only An Hour to Make Online Payments in Nigeria.

21 April 2015 by Oo Nwoye

I decided I needed to get business cards for an event tomorrow and decided to use my favorite online print shop Printivo. I uploaded my design, hit check out and my life took a left turn

If Printivo were using Stripe, Balanced or any payment system from the 21st century, I would have had to click a single button since as a returning customer, my card details would have been stored. Instead here is what happened.

  1. I decided to pay with my Diamond Bank company card and after several redirections, was told I needed to go to the ATM to activate my VISA card for online payments.
  2. I took out my personal GTBank Card, after several redirections, it decided to give me an unintelligible error.
  3. I tried GTBank Mastercard again, same error.
  4. I emailed the merchant. Waited to find out if the payment went through and was told it didn’t. Was advised to use online transfer.
  5. I has not used online banking in 3+ years so I had to pull out my form, search for my token and log in to GTBank online (I got these recently).
  6. Ater entering PINS upon PINs, I got to where I was to add a new beneficiary. Filled in all the details and was told to “Answer your Secret Question?”. Of course since there there are a million secret questions, I had no idea what the question was so I typed ’42’. It seems that is not the answer to the meaning of life.
  7. I emailed the merchant who I’m lucky to know personally, and pleaded to be given credit.
  8. Decided to give up, tweeted my frustrations and it got favorited by Tayo, Paga oga.
  9. Aha! I remembered I always used Paga for my bank transfers until our dear Interswitch decided to make online payments so safe that card owners could not use their cards.
  10. I logged into Paga and deposited money into my Paga account. I had to do it thrice becuse I was on the lowest tier of KYC. Yup I had to do the redirect to Interswitch and OTP three times.
  11. Transfers the money to Printivo.
  12. Done.

I deserve a meal.

PS: I skipped the steps where I took out time to insult a few people’s fathers and censored like 10 “fucking shits”.  But you get the gist.

3 comments | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

We Need a Nigeria Based Business Development Intern

14 April 2015 by Oo Nwoye

Fonebase Labs Logo

Fonebase Labs is in need of a female Business Development intern to assist the Business Co-Founder in varying tasks that span non-technical activities.

The role is 100% remote, however, should the intern be resident in Lagos, she can attend meetings with the Business team.

Why Female?

The primary reason is diversity. With the Fonebase Labs team currently consisting of 4 males, we are in search of a young, smart, hardworking lady to join the team. As people usually hire from their networks, and ours primarily consisting of male techheads, we’re going one step further to diversify our team and specifically seek for qualified females.

This however does not imply that we are lowering the bar, on the contrary we are looking harder, further and longer for the qualified candidate we know is out there. By joining the Fonebase Labs team as a Business Development Intern, you’ll get the chance to really contribute to the success of the team, use your skills all while gaining valuable experience. To put it in better perspective – you’ll make up 20% of the team.

Who Are We?

Fonebase Labs is a Nigerian founded technology company. We have a suite of web applications that provide various services targeted at the international market.

  1. Callbase – A web based call center
  2. Fonenode – A telephony API with services
  3. WriteRack – A tweetstorming application

Your Responsibility

Your primary responsibility will be to assist the Business Co-Founder in business related activities. This position will require and encourage you to take initiative in conceptualizing and/or executing various tasks.

A Week In The Life Of…

This is currently what my week at Fonebase Labs looks like across our various products

Fonenode

  1. Today, a proposal was sent out to a company interested in integrating Fonenode with their application.
  2. Fonenode is to launch a new segment. We need to recruit a few beta testers and would also need to get press for the product launch.
  3. We need to follow up with a client regarding balancing up an invoice.
  4. Work with the dev team to integrate intercom

Callbase

  1. We are following up with a remote Interface Designer (in Poland) to complete the redesign of the Callbase dashboard.
  2. Work with the dev team and a front-end developer to integrate the dashboard.
  3. Set up a meeting with a company that trains call-centre agents.
  4. Work with our devs to integrate intercom

Writerack

  1. Launch the new design
  2. Inform our hundreds of users about the new design and solicit feedback
  3. Communicate the feedback to the WriteRack lead.

Other

  1. Get a lawyer to tidy up an outstanding agreement with a new supplier
  2. Tidy up the books
  3. Rope Ope and the team into another long meeting.

These are just a few of typical things to be done so having an extra hand and perspective will be very welcome.

How we work?

We are a 100% distributed team. We presently consist of 4 people. 3 developers one of whom is on on extended holiday in Boston, my Co-Founder (presently in Akure), Intern developer (in Ilorin) and myself (In Lagos… for now)

Our “office” is situated on HipChat, Trello, Quip and Google Mail

Our Ideal Candidate

  • Pre NYSC or NYSC
  • You are top graduate and very interested and familiar with technology and startups
  • If you have visited Lagos, you must have dropped by CcHub or its equivalent elsewhere
  • Know that Raspberry Pi does not taste delicious and Hacker News is not a dangerous place.
  • You have a blog , write/have written about technology
  • You take initiative. e.g started or ran an association while in school.
  • Previously worked with a startup or a business
  • You are naturally organized and like writing (this is important).
  • Wired or The Economist is not out of place in your magazine rack.

Why Us?

First, why not us? We do not offer a competitive salary for a graduate, which is why we are specifically looking for Pre and NYSC level candidates. We however offer a decent package for the job requirements.

In spite of that, here are some advantages of working with us.

  1. Getting a deep knowledge and experience of startup operations. From concept to revenue. We assure you after your tenure you’ll be a catch for a Nigerian or international technology company. We’ll work towards being able to afford you when the tenure ends.
  2. We’re very (Buffer open) internally. If you want to know the balance of our bank account, just ask. If you want to know why any decision has been taken, ask. Nothing is off the table.
  3. We’re pretty flexible. You can work from wherever, whenever as long as you complete your tasks properly and on time.
  4. Our contacts are your contacts. You will get to meet and know a lot of people that will be of help to you in the coming years.
  5. You will be working with a really top notch team and will definitely learn A LOT!
  6. We encourage reading, and will also provide unfettered access to our library.

How to apply

Send an email with

  1. A summary of your academic background
  2. A list and description of projects you have done (it should have a technology angle)
  3. Visit Callbase.co and in a few paragraphs, explain what you think it is and where you would take it if it were handed over to you

Pls dnt wrt lk dis

Oo Nwoye

Co founder, Fonebase Labs

oo@fonebaselabs.com

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