Global payment company, MasterCard Incorporated, says the new national electronic identity card will grant Nigerians greater access to banking services. The company had partnered with the Nigerian Identity Management Commission, Access Bank Plc and other companies to launch a new electronic identity card in Abuja on Thursday. The eID card was launched by President Goodluck Jonathan.
In the pilot phase, the NIMC will issue MasterCard-branded identity cards with electronic payments functionality to 13 million Nigerians. The initiative is said to be the largest rollout of a biometric-based verification card with an electronic payment solution in the country and the broadest financial inclusion programme in Africa. A statement by MasterCard on Sunday said, “The eIDcard forms a key component of the Nigerian Identity Management System. It was deployed by NIMC as part of its mandate to create, maintain and operate the country’s first central National Identity Database and provide proof of identity to Nigerians 16 years and older.
It quoted Jonathan as describing the card as a window to a social security benefit system, calling on every Nigerian to get. According to the statement, NIMC is working with several government agencies to integrate and harmonise all identity databases including the driver’s licence, voter registration, health insurance, tax, SIM and the National Pension Commission into a single, shared-services platform.
The Director-General of NIMC, Mr. Chris Onyemenam, was quoted as saying, “The National eID programme enables us to create an optimised common platform for Nigerian citizens to easily interact with the various government agencies and to transact electronically. There are many use cases for the card, including the potential to use it as an international travel document, which will have significant implications for border control in Nigeria and West Africa.
“In close collaboration with both the public and private sectors to achieve the full potential of this programme, NIMC is focused on inclusive citizenship, more effective governance, and the creation of a cashless economy, all of which will stimulate economic growth, investment and trade.” Through the collaborative efforts of NIMC, MasterCard, Unified Payment Services Limited (payments processor), Cryptovision (public key infrastructure and trust services provider), and pilot issuing banks including Access Bank Plc, 13 million Nigerians will gain access to financial services as part of the pilot programme.
MasterCard’s Divisional President for sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Daniel Monehin, said, “This is a memorable occasion for MasterCard as we witness the start of a financial inclusion programme that is unprecedented in scale and scope. “Combining an identity card with MasterCard’s prepaid payment capability creates a game changer as it breaks down one of the most significant barriers to financial inclusion – proof of identity – while simultaneously enabling Nigerians to access the global economy.” He said the broader economic impact of the card would be felt as the previously unbanked and under-banked are able to gain access to the mainstream economy, and the visibility of their assets allows them to build a financial history and establish credit-worthiness with financial institutions.
He added, “Using the card as a payment tool, Nigerians can deposit funds, receive social benefits, save, or engage in many other financial transactions that are facilitated by electronic payments with the extra security assurance that biometric verification provides. They can also pay for goods and services bought from merchants and withdraw cash at ATMs that accept MasterCard payment cards in Nigeria and in more than 210 countries and territories globally.”
To receive the eIDcard, Nigerians aged 16 and above need to register at one of the hundreds of NIMC enrolment centres nationwide. The enrolment process involves the recording of an individual’s demographic data and biometric data (capture of 10 fingerprints, facial picture and Iris) to authenticate the cardholder and ensure that there are no duplicates on the system. Upon registration, NIMC issues each Nigerian with a unique National Identification Number (NIN), followed by the national eID card.
Upon completion of the pilot programme, NIMC plans to introduce more than 100 million cards to Nigeria’s 167 million citizens. “By supporting the Nigerian government in the implementation of a world-class and innovative electronic payments programme, we are helping them to reduce the costs of cash to the economy and society, improve efficiencies and prevent fraud and corruption. More importantly, we are opening up a world of financial inclusion to millions of Nigerians and improving lives,” Monehin added.