THISDAY.10 May 2013
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
•Targets issuance of 13m cards in first phase The Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and MasterCard thursday announced plans to roll out 13 million MasterCard-branded national identity smart cards with electronic payment capability as a pilot programme.
The national identity smart card is the card scheme under the recently deployed National Identity Management System (NIMS). The programme, the partners said at the World Economic Forum on Africa in South Africa, would be the largest rollout of a formal electronic payment solution in the country and the broadest financial inclusion initiative of its kind on the African continent.
As part of the programme, in its first phase, Nigerians 16 years and older, and all residents in the country for more than two years, will get the new multipurpose identity card which has 13 applications, including MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology that will provide cardholders with the safety, convenience and reliability of electronic payments.
This will have a significant and positive impact on the lives of these Nigerians who have not previously had access to financial services.
The project will have Access Bank Plc as the pilot issuer bank for the cards and Unified Payment Services Limited (Unified Payments) as the payment processor.
Other issuing banks will include United Bank for Africa (UBA), Union Bank, Zenith Bank, Skye Bank, Unity Bank, Stanbic, and First Bank. The announcement was witnessed by Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who stressed the importance of the national identity smart card scheme in moving Nigeria to an electronic platform.
“This programme is good practice for us to bring all the citizens on a common platform for interacting with the various government agencies and for transacting electronically. We will implement this initiative in a collaborative manner between the public and private sectors, to achieve its full potential of inclusive citizenship and more effective governance,” she said.
“Today’s (thursday) announcement is the first phase of an unprecedented project in terms of scale and scope for Nigeria. “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 programme’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,” President, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard, Michael Miebach, said.
Director General and Chief Executive of the National Identity Management Commission, Chris Onyemenam, said: “We have chosen MasterCard to be the payment technology provider for the initial roll-out of the national identity smart card project because the company has shown a commitment to furthering financial inclusion through the reduction of cash in the Nigerian economy.
“MasterCard has pioneered large-scale card schemes that combine biometric functionality with electronic payments and we want to capitalise on their experience in this field to make our program rollout a sustainable success for the country and for the continent.” In his remarks, Access Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said the involvement of the bank in the project was a testament to its ongoing efforts to expand financial inclusion in Nigeria.
“The new identity card will revolutionise 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.” On his part, Managing Director and CEO, Unified Payments, Agada Apochi, said the company would use its expertise and experience to guarantee the success of the project and ensure the protection of the data of Nigerians.
“We look forward to working with other partners in delivering value to all stakeholders,’’ he added.m