The benefits of Nigeria's new electronic ID cards - CNBC Africa

The benefits of Nigeria's new electronic ID cards

By: Tobi Raphael
Last Updated: 02 September 2014|16:35 GMT

President Goodluck Jonathan launched multipurpose electronic national ID cards as a way towards improving access to financial services.

President Goodluck Jonathan launched multipurpose electronic national ID cards. PHOTO: Panorama Times

The card will enable Nigerians to use it for voting by 2019.

“It’s a great commendation of what we at master card regard as a game changer in the payment industry. A game changer because, it combines the element of unique identification based on biometrics, which are stored electronically and automatically retrievable with an electronic payment functionality,” Daniel Monehin, president of MasterCard in Sub-Saharan Africa told CNBC Africa.

“This will be the largest rollout of a financial inclusion program in Africa and in many respected areas in the world. It is a substantial program and I think the people of Nigeria should be proud.”

The introduction of the electronic card in Nigeria is a vision of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) which is coming to reality with the help of MasterCard.

“This is an example of how innovation from government can affect the lives of the people. This concept of combining the ID with the payment instrument surprisingly did not even come from MasterCard. We have been doing it elsewhere but in the case of Nigeria, it originated from the NIMC.”

“When MasterCard came in, it was to help bring that vision to reality because of our experience of birthing such programs and so we took the program and rolled it out through implementation, technical aspects and the business side of it.”

(READ MORE: Breaking barriers of the unbanked and underserved)

The service is being provided by MasterCard and it hopes millions of Nigerians without bank accounts will now gain access to financial services.

“There has been a surge in the adoption of mobile payment. In Nigeria, during the late 90’s there were only about 200,000 land lines but now you are talking of over a 100 million mobile subscriptions in Nigeria alone, that’s massive. Guess what, not everyone yet has a mobile phone. The interesting thing about this program and what makes it unique is everyone will have a national ID card and therefore everyone will have access to financial services.”

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