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Nigeria popularizes tokenization for ID verification, assures of data protection

Nigeria popularizes tokenization for ID verification, assures of data protection

The National Identity Management Commission of Nigeria (NIMC) has been explaining the ease with which Nigerians with a National Identification Number (NIN) can get their ID verified using tokenization. This comes as the ID-issuing authority recently reported an increase in figures of Nigerians living abroad who have obtained the NIN. In the meantime, the heads of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) and the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), in separate recent outings, underlined the importance of having in place a data protection regulation, and how it is critical to the country’s digital economy aspirations.

NIMC explains tokenization for ID verification to public

In a short video explainer posted to Twitter, the NIMC says tokenization enables ID verification anywhere, anytime via the NIMC mobile ID app with the user’s personal data staying safe and secure. Those without smart phones can also use the token via a USSD code, the agency says.

It is an ID verification method which prevents a person’s ID from being duplicated or cloned.

For security purposes, the token expires within a period of 72 hours and cannot be used by another enterprise for ID verification.

The NIMC Director General, Aziz Aliyu, speaking on Nigeria’s ID verification experience with the NIN, during a session at ID4Africa 2023, mentioned tokenization as one of the methods.

As users are encouraged to use tokenization for ID verification while seeking access to services, Nigerians living abroad are also taking interest in obtaining the NIN which they require for renewing their Nigerian passports.

According to the NIMC, 427,962 Nigerians abroad had obtained the NIN as of May 27, bringing the percentage of all Diaspora Nigerians who have the digital ID above 25, Punch reports. An estimated 1.7 million Nigerians live abroad. Back home, the number has gone past 100 million.

Registration of Diaspora Nigerians for the NIN started in 2019 and the service is said to be available in 77 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

Data protection crucial to digital economy growth

Meanwhile, the National Commissioner of the NDPB, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, at a recent Nigeria-Netherlands Economic Consultation meeting, emphasized the importance of data protection, saying it has contributed about 5.5 billion Naira (US$11.8 million) to the Nigerian economy.

Although a specific data protection regulation is yet to be enacted, the official said other measures and infrastructure have been put in place to ensure that people’s data are protected, thereby building trust and confidence for safe business transactions, Punch narrates.

Olatunji also expressed the need for collaboration with the Dutch government in terms of experience-sharing and capacity building as well as sensitization on the importance of data protection.

In a related development, the NCC Executive Vice Chairman Umar Danbatta, speaking through a representative at a forum on ‘Data security, safety and governance in Nigeria,’ highlighted the need for trust and responsibility when handling data especially in an era of 5G technology.

“By cultivating trust and handling data responsibly, we can unlock the full potential of 5G technology and promote innovation in Nigeria. We must consider the challenges that come with it, particularly in protecting user data privacy and safety,” says the representative, per Business Post.

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