The National Lottery Regulatory Commission has informed stakeholders and operators of the impending National Premium Identity Verification Platform, writes Nseobong Okon-Ekong
In a move geared towards mitigating and curbing unscrupulous activities in the industry, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) has launched the National Premium Identity Verification Platform (NPIVP).
According to the Director General of the NLRC, Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, who spoke during a Stakeholders’ Engagement on Know Your Customer (KYC) and Verification Issues in the Nigerian gaming industry held at his office in Abuja, the new NPIVP will provide identification in less than eight seconds, attach real-time human faces to players, minimize fraud, ease compliance and encourage more participation in the industry.
Lamenting Federal Government’s concern about prevalent complaints relating to customer identity and verification in the industry, the DG said further that the initiative aligns with the commission’s mission of creating a safe and secure environment for operators and players.
According to Gbajabiamila, NLRC’s mission is to create an enabling, safe and secure environment for operators and players while ensuring the Nigerian gaming industry thrives, noting that the commission is the apex gaming regulatory institution in Nigeria, saddled with the responsibility of regulating the operation and business of the national lottery, setting standards, guidelines and rules; that ensure transparency and integrity and also protect the interest of players, stakeholders and the public.
He mentioned that the commission also carries out periodic industry-wide assessments and other duties as the country’s president may have directed, per the National Lottery Act 2005 (as amended).
“To this end, the commission has collaborated with other federal government agencies to promote the gaming industry and ensure a safe and secure gaming environment. We want to notify you that the commission recently executed a memorandum of understanding with the National Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC,” added Gbajabiamila and the control unit against money laundering (SCUML).
“More importantly, the NFIU and the CBN have brought to the attention of the commission the gaming operators’ low compliance with the existing Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Laws in Nigeria,” Gbajabiamila said.
Gbajabiamila directed all gaming operators to identify and verify the players and users of their various gaming platforms while ensuring that the collected and collated personal data is secure.
“Concerning the minimum requirement(s) of customer due diligence (KYC), it is imperative to state that all gaming operators must identify and verify the players and users of their various gaming platforms while ensuring that the collected and collated personal data is secure. I want to restate that Section 4 of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022 mandates gaming operators to identify and verify customers’ identities before establishing and including ongoing business relations,” he added.
He pointed out that section 4 (1) (b) of the act and section 33 (3) of the EFCC DNFBPs Regulation 2022 provide that businesses shall verify the identity of their customers using a reliable, independent source, document, data or information.
“Importantly, Section 2.1(b) of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation, 2019, enumerates that data obtained from data subjects should be accurate,” Gbajabiamila stated.
Reacting to the initiative, the commissioner of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), represented by a senior officer of the Bureau, Mr Babatunde Bamgboye, said that the commission’s proactiveness was timely and in line with the federal government’s Anti-Money Laundering Act.
The team leader of the NFIU, Mr Abbas B., said the new NPIVP would help tackle criminality in the lottery industry by reporting suspicious transactions, describing it as a brilliant innovation and stressing that the gateway to tackling criminality is Know Your Customer (KYC) and the NPIVP. He said it was a step in the right direction.
For the representative from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Abubakar Zanna, the NPIVP will mitigate the hacking of customers’ accounts by criminals and tackle fraud in the system.
“The CBN has been inundated with reports of customers’ wallets being hacked daily, but this initiative will help tackle this. The CBN is willing to collaborate further with the NLRC in making sure that the benefits are maximised,” he said.
NCC’s representative, Clement Omife, the deputy director of the Consumer Affairs Bureau, said the agency highlighted the importance of KYC, especially in partnership with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
“We really appreciate the NLRC for this wonderful initiative. We have been doing this KYC and I can tell you that it will help mitigate a lot of criminality in the lottery industry,” said Omife. “The NCC is ever ready to collaborate further with the NLRC to make sure this project succeeds.”
Reacting to the initiative, the Association of Nigerian Bookmakers (Lottery Operators), led by its Executive Secretary, Akingba Olabimpe, drummed support for the NPIVP but raised fears about the success due to issues of jurisdiction between the federal and state regulators.
According to her, they already had KYC in their various companies but want the commission to address the issue of jurisdiction as it affects states, adding that the initiatives could also lead to double taxation on them if the jurisdictional issues are not addressed.
The DG assured that the commission was aware of the operators’ challenges and that the issue of jurisdiction between the states was already in court and would be resolved soon. He emphasised further that the NPIVP was a federal government initiative that must be complied with without question as they have nothing to worry about.
“The NPIVP is a federal government initiative, and you have no choice but to comply. NLRC is a federal government regulator and will not depend on operators’ data when it comes to KYC. I want to assure you that state regulators have no power to negate a federal law,” explained the DG. “The NPIVP provides a second layer verification, and your data is safe with us. You also need to let us know who your independent verifiers are because things must be done right.”
He stressed that the NPIVP “has come to stay, but every grey area noticed will be sorted out” and that “it’s a new dawn” for the lottery industry in Nigeria.