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MasterCard helps rolls out national ID cards in Nigeria

All citizens 16 and older and legal residents who have been issued a national identity number will be required to have one

The Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and MasterCard are teaming up to roll out 13 million multipurpose national identity smart cards.

The new Nigerian National Identity Card (NNIC) is a microprocessor-based, multipurpose card designed to handle multiple applications including identity verification and authentication and payment functionalities. The move was announced at the World Economic Forum on Africa, which ended Friday in South Africa.

The MasterCard-branded card is designed to help manage several applications that are all dependent on the user's identity as verified through various components and procedures, including the National Identity Database or Central Identity Repository and a National Identification Number (NIN). The card's security features include the microchip, which contains the owner's preselected data.

With more than 100 million cards expected to be introduced to Nigeria's 167 million citizens, the plan is the largest rollout of a formal electronic payment solution in the country and is the broadest financial inclusion initiative of its kind on the African continent.

The idea for the card came out of a recommendation made by a Harmonization Committee, set up by the Nigerian government in 2005 to advise it on how best to sort out various identification schemes and the multiple identity cards being issued both by public and private sector institutions in the country.

MasterCard has supported the Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN) cashless policy "as we share a vision of a world beyond cash," said Michael Miebach, president of MasterCard Middle East and Africa, in a statement. "From the program's inception, we have provided the Federal Government of Nigeria with global insights and best practices on how electronic payments can enable economic growth and create a more financially inclusive economy."

Industry insiders think the new card will help stem various financial crimes usually associated with the country, including Internet scams, and boost the country's investment opportunities. It also has the potential to boost financial services, as it has applications including MasterCard's prepaid payment technology, which will let cardholders make electronic payments.

Nigerians 16 years and older and legal residents who have been in the country for two years and who have been registered and issued an NIN are required to obtain the card.

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