How do I set up a bank account in Nigeria: benefits and documents

09 Dec 2022 - Category: Blog /
bank accounts nigeria

While Nigeria’s banking sector is growing fast, the vast majority of Nigerian adults are still either underbanked, unbanked or financially excluded. This has implications for those wanting to send money to Nigeria. Your options as a benefactor increase if your beneficiary has a bank account.

Based on data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, 56% of Nigerian adults are still unbanked at the end of 2020. This equates to just under 56 million of the country’s 99.6 million adults (

As of 2018, around 36.8% of the population eligible for bank accounts did not have any access at all to formal or informal financial services or products.

The benefits of a bank account

There are many benefits for both you and your friends and family in Nigeria if they open a bank account. These include:

  • Online and mobile banking
  • Debit card
  • Cheque book Facilities to set up regular/recurring outgoing payments
  • Digital salary/payments
  • Savings accounts Saving time; digital payments are often much quicker and don’t involve standing in line
  • Keeping money safe and secure

And of course, having a bank account still means your beneficiary will be able to access cash services as before, if they choose to withdraw their money from an ATM. It is important to state that here may be some costs associated with opening a bank account (such as a monthly maintenance charges). This is something that should be checked with the bank before making any commitments.

How this helps you send money to Nigeria

One of the key benefits of having a bank account is being able to receive online money transfers. This means your recipient can avoid unnecessary travel and will no longer have to travel to an agent.

Transferring money to a bank account takes minutes. You can send money to Nigeria using the Small World app, by sending money online via our website, in person through one of our branches or by calling our call center.

With technological advances and mobile money on the increase, along with current social distancing guidelines, digital transactions are beneficial to everyone. And it all starts with a bank account.

How can I help my beneficiary set up a bank account in Nigeria?

You can help your loved ones to set up a bank account in Nigeria, even if you are living overseas. Sending money home digitally will give them better access to money in Nigeria and give them a wider range of options when receiving money transfers.

Each Nigerian bank has their own process for opening an account. Traditionally this involves visiting a local branch with the relevant documentation and completing an application form in person.

However, due to technological advancements many accounts can now be opened online.

Here are three examples of Small World’s main partners in Nigeria, to show that each bank has their own way of doing things:

  • Polaris Bank: Offers different types of savings and current accounts, which can be opened online through their self-service website.
  • Fidelity Bank: Offers the option to open an account online. With a number of different accounts available, a form can also be downloaded from their website and submitted at a local branch.
  • First Bank: Offers a wide range of current accounts and savings accounts. The relevant form can be downloaded from their website and, once completed, can be submitted at the nearest branch.
  • If your beneficiary prefers to open an account in person, it is worth checking restrictions relating to the Covid-19 pandemic before visiting. It is best to contact the relevant bank in advance and ask to make an appointment.

Documents that are needed to open a bank account in Nigeria

Again, this will differ from bank to bank. But, in general, anyone wanting to open an account can typically expect to be asked for:

  • Passport photograph and signature
  • Bank Verification Number (BVN)
  • Valid means of identification (passport, driving license, national ID)
  • Utility bill Resident permit (for expatriates)
  • Two suitable references

The most popular ways to send money to Nigeria: 

  1. Cash pick-up
  2. Bank deposit 
  3. Anywhere pick up

 Our main partners in Nigeria are Polaris Bank, Fidelity, First Bank, GT Bank, access, UBA.

And don’t forget your first transaction with Small World is fee-FREE.

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