Nigeria Launches Biometric-based National eID Cards

The new MasterCard-branded National ID cards have been officially launched in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has begun the issuance of 13 million MasterCard-branded National eID cards, with President Goodluck Jonathan the first to receive his card.

According to the NIMC, the pilot phase of the project begins the largest rollout of a biometric-based verification card with an electronic payment solution in the country and the broadest financial inclusion programme in Africa.

The eID card has been deployed by as part of the NIMC’s mandate to create, maintain and operate the country's first central National Identity Database and provide proof of identity to Nigerians over the age of 16.

The cards contain 13 applications, including MasterCard's prepaid payment technology and Cryptovision's biometric identification technology, and is seeking to provide banking services to millions of previously unserved Nigerians.

President Jonathan said: “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.”

The 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 programme 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 Onyemenam, director general and chief executive officer (CEO) of the 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.”

Daniel Monehin, division president of Sub-Saharan Africa at MasterCard, said the launch was a memorable occasion for the company.

“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.

Monehin added the broader economic impact of the card will see previously unbanked and under-banked Nigerians able to gain access to the mainstream economy, build a financial history and establish credit-worthiness with banks and other financial institutions.

Nigerians can use the eID card to deposit funds, receive social benefits,save, or engage in many other financial transactions that are facilitated by electronic payments.

The card is also able to withdraw cash at millions of merchants and ATMS that accept MasterCard payment cards in Nigeria and in more than 210 countries and territories globally.

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