According to Wall Street Journal, MasterCard International is collaborating with the Nigerian government to roll out a smart identity card program where the national identification card will be chip-enabled and will be used for engaging financial transactions.
The program is reportedly currently in pilot stage and id already being used in many countries, particularly in Europe and Asia where the dual function of the national identification cards could be used to perform many financial services such as payment for groceries or in a restaurant.
The program is part of the Nigerian government’s ambition to have all of its 167 million citizens to have an identity card and if the card is chip-enabled, it would become another financial tool for its citizens. Wall Street Journal pointed that only 30% of Nigerians have a bank account and the smart identity card would increase the number of people using financial services.
The Executive Director for International Development at Mastercard International, Tara Nathan explained the features of the smart identity card and is excited about the prospect in Nigeria, where it would bring the country to a higher notch in financial services.
“We said there are implications for [leaving the logo off the card. A key aspect to any financial inclusion project is the ability to use that product to make purchases. Obviously, without a brand mark, we can’t do that.”
“There was a lot of input from people with nationalist interests.”
In 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan has set a target that by December 2014, at least 100 million of Nigerians above the age of 16 would be registered.
The Vice President of Mastercard West Africa business development, Omokehinde Ojomuyide said that President Jonathan’s target may be too optimistic but the lack of a national registration and identification have hindered a lot of people, particularly those of the lower social economic strata of society in accessing credit facilities from the financial system, a first step to better their livelihood in the future.
“Lack of a national ID management system had stopped [Nigeria] from growing as we should,”
“Five years ago we didn’t have any credit bureaus in Nigeria, so giving loans was an onerous task for the banks. The ID program enables an environment for credit, which of course will jump-start the economy.”
“We know that putting the card in the hands of everybody wouldn’t immediately solve the financial inclusion problem,” Ojomuyide says, “but we think it’s a goal that can be reached as it makes mainstream financial services available to those who cannot participate today.”