Nigeria: Africa’s Largest Inclusion Program Begins as Govt Launch New eID Card

Sep 2014
Nigeria, September, 02 2014 - The official launch of the new national eID card by President Goodluck Jonathan, signals the start of Africa’s largest inclusion program, industry observers have said.

With 13 applications, including MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology and Cryptovision’s biometric identification technology, the eID card will provide millions of Nigerians – the majority of whom have never had access to a banking product – with the security, convenience and reliability of electronic payments. In the pilot phase, the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC) will issue MasterCard-branded identity cards with e-payments functionality to 13 million Nigerians. This initiative is the largest rollout of a biometric-based verification card, with an e-payment solution and the broadest financial inclusion program in Africa. 

Jonathan, last week, received his eID card, heralding the commencement of the pilot program.

The eID card forms a critical 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. At an elaborate celebratory event held in Abuja, last week, Jonathan, said: “I am happy that this important milestone of the rollout of the National Identity Management System (NIMS) 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 must however commend MasterCard, and Access Bank Plc, as well as the Commission (NIMC) for achieving a world-class product.” According to the president, the national identity card provides a window to a social security benefit system, further adding that it is a card every Nigerian should get.

NIMC is working with several government agenciesto integrate and harmonise all identity databases including the Driver’s License, Voter Registration, Health Insurance, Tax, SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) 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,” said Chris ‘E Onyemenam, director general and chief executive officer of NIMC. 

“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 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 further added.

Through the collaborative efforts of NIMC (the project lead), MasterCard (payments technology provider), 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 state-of-art financial services as part of the pilot program. 

“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 (SSA), 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.”

He said 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. They can also pay for goods and services and withdraw cash at millions of merchants and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) that accept MasterCardpayment cards in Nigeria and in more than 210 countries and territories globally. MasterCard has unsurpassed merchant acceptance; no other brand is more widely accepted.The card also has the added safety and security benefits offered by the EMV Chip and Pin standard.

Source : Business Day

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