Meaning of One Time Password (OTP) in banking and how to register for it online

Meaning of One Time Password (OTP) in banking and how to register for it online

One of the most popular transaction protection methods today is two-factor authentication, commonly known as 2FA. One of the ways 2FA works is through an OTP (One-time PIN). When active, an OTP must be keyed in before a transaction is completed. The security feature is based on the premise that only an authorized user can be in possession of the device to which the OTP is sent. In Nigeria, most banking OTPs are generated by Interswitch and are known as Safetokens. Learning how to get an OTP code on your phone is essential.

meaning of otp in banking
A woman using a phone. Photo:, @Andrea Piacquadio (modified by author)
Source: UGC

In Nigeria, the OTP service was made part of the mandatory standards banks must meet in order to remain operational. Still, the authentication is not available on transactions initiated outside the Interswitch payment network.

What is the meaning of OTP in banking?

A one-time password, also known as a one-time PIN or a dynamic password, is a password that is valid for a single login session or transaction.

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How to get an OTP code on your phone

Here is a look at the different ways you can register to use the One-time PIN 2FA service on your device.

Bank activation

The easiest way to register for the One-time PIN service is through your nearest bank branch. The bank's customer service representative will set up the One-time PIN for you if you are a registered customer with an active account. This way, every transaction relating to your account will be OTP-protected.

ATM activation

otp from token
A lady using an ATM. Photo:, @Uriel Mont
Source: UGC

If you cannot access a bank branch or wouldn't want to queue, you can activate the OTP service at any bank ATM in Nigeria. Here is how to get an OTP on your phone using an ATM.

  1. Begin by inserting your card into the ATM and inputting your PIN.
  2. Select your account type (if the option exists).
  3. Choose the "Quickteller" option from the pop-up menu.
  4. Select the "Pay Bills" option and then select "others" under that.
  5. You will be presented with a bill payment menu.
  6. Input 322222 on the biller code field.
  7. Input your cellphone number in the customer reference number field.
  8. Click on "Proceed."
  9. The ATM machine will ask you to confirm whether you intend to make the payment.
  10. The amount charged from your card will be ₦1.
  11. Click on the "pay amount due" option, making sure not to alter the figure.
  12. You will be presented with a confirmation message letting you know that your registration has been successful.
  13. You will then receive a One-time PIN, which you are required to type into the box provided on the ATM.
  14. Keep in mind that a One-time PIN will typically remain active for five minutes, after which it will be expired and unusable.
  15. If you do not get the One-time PIN as stated above, feel free to contact Interswitch via the email address or

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How to get my OTP code online

How do you get your MTN OTP code?
A man using a smartphone. Photo:, @Keira Burton
Source: UGC

You can register for the OTP service through Quickteller's online portal. Here is a look at the steps for online OTP registration.

  1. Visit the Quickteller website and click on the sign-up button on the top right corner of the page.
  2. You will be presented with a short sign-up form requiring you to fill out a few details.
  3. Fill out the One-time PIN registration form, making sure to cross-check the information before submitting it.
  4. Once you are done, click on 'sign up.'
  5. You should receive an email from Quickteller with additional details on how to proceed.
  6. Click on the link in the email to complete your One-time PIN activation.
  7. Keep in mind that your bank will need to validate your registration if you do it online. Make sure to get in touch with the bank after completing the registration.

How are OTPs generated?

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The generation of a One-Time PIN is based on two devices (server and user) having the same 'knowledge' of a unique code. This means that only the server that generated the code and the device registered as the user knows about the code.

What are the different types of OTPs?

There are two types of OTP codes.

  • HOTP (hash-based one-time password): A HOTP is usually based on a counter, which is incremented each time a code is generated. This means that the same code can never be used twice and will expire as soon as the next code is generated.
  • TOTP (time-based one-time password): A time-based PIN expires after a few minutes. This means it can only be valid before its stipulated time expires. They are extensions of HOTPs, but with a time element.

How are OTPs delivered?

meaning of otp in banking
A lady operating and ATM. Photo:, @Roberto Hund
Source: UGC

Decades ago, OTPs were delivered through physical tokens that one had to carry whenever one needed to make a transaction. This enabled them to copy the OTP from the token to complete the online transaction.

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Today, the most popular delivery mode is through users' mobile devices. Modern-day smartphones have their own integrated security features, making them even better for One-time PIN delivery.

How do you get your MTN OTP code?

You can receive an OTP (One-Time Password) code from MTN through various methods, primarily via SMS, through MTN mobile app, USSD or through your email.

Why are OTPs better than normal passwords?

What makes One-time PINs so secure is that they can only be used once. Time-based codes become even more limiting for malicious users since the code must be used within a set timeframe.

While regular passwords and PINs can be very complex, they are typically only changed every few months or sometimes never. This makes them far more susceptible to hackers and data breaches.

Learning how to get an OTP code on your phone can be quite essential in enhancing your transactions' security. These codes add a layer of protection to your ATM, online, and POS transactions by sending a code to confirm that it's the authorized person making the transaction.

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