Nigeria has launched a pilot electronic identification card linked with an electronic payment utility. In this phase, the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is set to issue MasterCard-branded identity cards with electronic payments functionality to 13 million Nigerians.
The eID card forms a key component of the Nigerian Identity Management System, 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.
With 13 applications, including MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology and Cryptovision’s biometric identification technology, the eID card will provide millions of Nigerians access to banking services.
“I am happy that this important milestone of the rollout of the National Identity Management System has been realised today. I am impressed with the quality of the eID card and the work of the corporate partners that made it possible. I commend especially MasterCard, and Access Bank Plc, as well as the Commission [NIMC] for achieving a world-class product,” said Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan.
He said the card builds a window to a social security benefit system. NIMC is working with several government agencies to integrate and harmonise all identity databases including the Driver’s License, Voter Registration, Health Insurance, Tax, SIM and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) into a single, shared services platform.
“The National eID program enables us to create an optimised common platform for Nigerian citizens to easily interact with the various government agencies and to transact electronically,” says NIMC Director General Mr Barr Chris ‘E Onyemenam noted adding that there are several use cases for the card including the potential to use it as an international travel document.
“In close collaboration with both the public and private sectors to achieve the full potential of this program, 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,” he added.
Sub-Saharan Africa, Mastercard Africa, president Daniel Monehin, said this is a memorable occasion “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 added.
Mr Monehin noted that the broader economic impact of the card will 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.
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.