Federal Government Approves Integration of National ID Cards with Debit Cards

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The Nigerian federal government has granted permission for commercial banks to issue debit cards that double as National Identity Cards to Nigerian citizens, without any additional charges. The decision was announced by Prof Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, during a press conference held in Abuja. The approval was obtained during a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The decision came in response to a memo submitted by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), which proposed the printing of multipurpose debit cards that would also function as National identity cards. These cards would be accepted by various banks, including those offering Mastercard and Visa services.

He said “As in the NIMC Act 2007, section 27, what is mandatory for our citizens and legal residents is the acquiring of the National Identity Number, not the card. However, the card is optional.

“But many citizens, particularly those living in rural communities, always go to NIMC offices complaining that they need the card at hand, even though it’s optional.

To alleviate these challenges, the NIMC has collaborated with the Central Bank of Nigeria to enable interested citizens to obtain the cards easily through relevant banks. The agreement allows banks to print the cards, incorporating either Mastercard or Visa functionalities. The multipurpose card will serve both as a national identity card and a bank card, and citizens can apply for it at their banks without incurring any additional costs.

Prof Pantami also disclosed that a nondisclosure agreement has been signed between NIMC and the Central Bank of Nigeria to safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of card applicants. The agreement ensures that the data provided for card issuance remains secure and protected.

The Minister revealed that FEC has approved the implementation of an automated system to link National Identity Numbers (NINs) with individual SIM cards. This system aims to streamline the process of NIN-SIM linkage and improve database integrity. It will also simplify SIM replacement procedures for Nigerian citizens and legal residents.

The integration of National ID cards with debit cards is expected to enhance convenience and accessibility for Nigerians, particularly those in rural areas. The initiative reflects the government’s commitment to digital transformation and ensuring efficient public services.

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