The Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and MasterCard have announced a pilot project to roll out 13 million MasterCard-branded National Identity Smart Cards with electronic payment capability. The program is the largest roll-out of a formal electronic payment solution in the country and the broadest financial inclusion initiative of its kind on the African continent. In the first phase, Nigerians of 16 years and older will get the new multipurpose identity card for two years. The card will have 13 applications including MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology that will provide cardholders with the convenience of electronic payments.
Access Bank Plc has been chosen as the pilot issuer bank for the cards with Unified Payment Services Limited acting as the payment processor. Other issuing banks will include United Bank for Africa, Union Bank, Zenith, Skye Bank, Unity Bank, Stanbic, and First Bank.
Nigeria’s central bank has outlined a cashless policy that limits ATM withdrawals. The policy discourages banks from cashing cheques above the 150,000 Naira limit, imposing sanctions on banks which allow their customers to violate these guidelines. “MasterCard has been a firm supporter of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Cashless Policy as we share a vision of a world beyond cash. From the program’s inception, we have provided the Federal Government of Nigeria with global insights and best practices on how electronic payments can enable economic growth and create a more financially inclusive economy”, says Michael Miebach, President, Middle-East and Africa, MasterCard.
Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, CEO of Access Bank says, “The new identity card will revolutionize the Nigerian economic landscape, breaking down one of the most significant barriers to financial inclusion – proof of identity, while simultaneously providing Nigerians with a world class payment solution”.
The National Identity Smart Card will incorporate the unique National Identification Numbers (NIN) of duly registered persons in the country. Registration involves the collection of an individual’s demographic data and biometric data (capture of 10 fingerprints, facial picture and digital signature). These details will be used to authenticate the cardholder and eliminate fraud and embezzlement. The information will be included in a National Identity Database which will provide a platform for several other value propositions of the NIMC including identity authentication and verification.
The unique identification of individuals under the NIMS will allow other identification card schemes like the Driver’s License, Voters Registration, Health Insurance, Tax, SIM and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) to benefit. All these will be integrated using the NIN into the multi-function Card Scheme of the NIMS.
As a prepaid payment tool, the card can be used to receive social benefits and in paying for goods and services at any of the MasterCard acceptance locations globally. Cardholders can also withdraw cash from ATMs that accept MasterCard in a secure environment enabled by the EMV Chip and Pin standard.
The NIMC plans to introduce more than 100 million cards to Nigeria’s 167 million citizens after National ID registration process is complete.