Nigeria launches e-ID cards with electronic payment functionality

Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan has launched the country’s national e-ID card programme, which sees citizens issued with MasterCard-branded biometric identity cards which have electronic payment functionality included.

In the initial pilot phase of the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC) project, 13 million Nigerians will be given the card, making it the largest rollout of a biometric-based verification card with an electronic payment solution in Nigeria, as well as being the broadest financial inclusion programme in Africa.

The e-ID card programme forms part of NIMC’s effort to create, maintain and operate Nigeria’s first central National Identity Database and provide proof of identity to Nigerians 16 years and older.

The card comes with 13 applications including Cryptovision’s biometric identification technology, and MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology through which millions of so far unbanked Nigerians will gain access to electronic payments.

“I am happy that this important milestone of the rollout of the National Identity Management System has been realized 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 Jonathan, launching the project.

NIMC said it is also working with government agencies to integrate and harmonize all identity databases including driver’s licence, voter registration, health Insurance, tax, SIM registration and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) into a single, shared services platform.

Chris ‘E Onyemenam, director general and chief executive officer (CEO) of NIMC  said: “The National eID program enables us to create an optimized 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,” Onyemenam said.

“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 said.

Following completion of the pilot programme, NIMC plans to roll out over 100 million e-ID cards to Nigeria’s 167 million citizens; with those over 16 years old eligible for the document.

“This is a memorable occasion for MasterCard as we witness the start of a financial inclusion program that is unprecedented in scale and scope,” said Daniel Monehin, division president of Sub-Saharan Africa at MasterCard.

“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.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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