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Nigeria Transitions to National Electronic ID With MasterCard Feature

President Goodluck Jonathan used his new e-ID card at an ATM during the launch Source: BBC
President Goodluck Jonathan used his new e-ID card at an ATM during the launch Source: BBC

Nigeria’s president has formally launched a national electronic identity card, which all Nigerians will have to obtain by 2019 if they want to vote.

Goodluck Jonathan received the first biometric card, which can also be used to make electronic payments.

MasterCard is providing the prepaid payment element and it hopes millions of Nigerians without bank accounts will now gain access to financial services.

An attempt to introduce national ID cards in Nigeria 10 years ago failed.

Analysts blame corruption for its failure, and say the same problems may stymie the new e-ID scheme.

‘Breaks barriers’

“The card is not only a means of certifying your identity, but also a personal database repository and payment card, all in your pocket,”  Jonathan said at the launch in the capital, Abuja.

“I have taken keen interest in this project, primarily because of the pervasive impact it can have on every facet of the socio-economic fabric of our dear nation,” he said.

According to Nigeria’s central bank, about 30 percent of the country’s 167 million inhabitants have access to bank accounts, Bloomberg news agency reports.

MasterCard said combining an identity card with a payment card for those citizens ages 16 and over was a significant move.

“It breaks down one of the most significant barriers to financial inclusion – proof of identity,” MasterCard’s Daniel Monehin said in a statement.

The new cards show a person’s photograph, name, age and unique ID number – and 10 fingerprints and an iris are scanned during enrollment.

These details are intended to ensure that there are no duplicates on the system.

During the pilot phase, which began registering names last October, 13 million MasterCard-branded ID cards will be issued.

There are enrollment centers in all 36 states and there is no fee to get the card, though people will be charged in the event that it needs to be replaced.

Read more at bbc.com

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