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Nigeria to issue national Mastercard-branded biometric ID cards


Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC) announced it has launched the eID pilot program, issuing MasterCard-branded identity cards with electronic payments functionality to 13 million civilians.

The program marks the largest rollout of a biometric verification card with an electronic payment solution in Nigeria, as well as the broadest financial inclusion program in Africa.

The eID card is a key part of the NIMC’s mandate to develop, maintain and run Nigeria’s first central national identity database and provide proof of identity to Nigerians 16 years and older.

The card features 13 applications, including MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology and Cryptovision’s biometric identification technology, providing millions of Nigerian civilians with the ability to perform safe electronic payments.

“I am happy that this important milestone of the rollout of the National Identity Management System has been realized today,” said Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan at a celebratory event held in Abuja. “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 for achieving a world-class product.”

NIMC is also collaborating with other government agencies to consolidate all identity databases including the driver’s license, voter registration, health insurance, tax, SIM and the National Pension Commission into one shared services platform.

The Commission worked closely with both the public and private sectors, focusing on “inclusive citizenship, more effective governance, and the creation of a cashless economy,” said Barr. Chris ‘E Onyemenam, director general and CEO of NIMC.

“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,” said Onyemenam. “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.”

The card will also allow a financial history to be established by individuals, enabling them to gain access to the mainstream economy and establish credit with financial institutions.

Among the private companies collaborating with the Commission are MasterCard, Unified Payment Services Limited, Cryptovision, and pilot issuing banks including Access Bank Plc.

Nigerians can use the card as a payment tool to deposit funds, receive social benefits, maintain their savings, or perform any other financial transaction with high-level security benefits of biometric verification.

Additionally, they can purchase goods and services and withdraw cash at any of the millions of Mastercard-accepted merchants and ATMS in Nigeria and around the world.

The eID card also provides added security features as a result of the EMV Chip and Pin standard.

To receive the eID card, Nigerians aged 16 and older will be required to register at one of the hundreds of NIMC enrollment centers in the country.

At the center, officials will record the individual’s demographic data and biometric data – including the capture of 10 fingerprints, facial picture and Iris — to verify the cardholder and ensure that the system does not have any duplicates.

Once the individual is fully registered, NIMC will issue a unique National Identification Number, along with the national eID card.

NIMC said it plans to issue more than 100 million cards to Nigeria’s 167 million residents following the completion of the pilot program.

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