The Federal Government has directed commercial banks to issue debit cards that would serve as National identity cards to Nigerians.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami, disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja. He said this issuance comes at no cost.
He said Nigerians can now request their banks to issue them with the debit card without an extra cost.
The minister also added that the approval followed a memo from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) allowing banks to print multipurpose debit cards that double as National identity cards.
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The Minister explained that” It is going to be a form of multipurpose card where it will serve as your national identity card on one hand and also your bank card on the other hand, either Mastercard, Visa or any other kind of card.”
According to Pantami, although the NIMC Act 2007 only mandates Nigerians to have a National Identity Number and not necessarily a printout card, demands for cards have swelled nonetheless.
“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 make it easier, NIMC last year, we introduced a smart ID card you can download from NIMC app. It is just a smart card. You don’t need to have it physically, but that is becoming difficult for our people living in rural communities.”
To ease the difficulty, Pantami said NIMC had partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria ”so that citizens who are interested in having a card at hand can easily go to the relevant banks.”
According to him, the bank is permitted to print the card along with either a Mastercard or Visa card.
”It is going to be a form of multipurpose card that will serve as your national identity card on one hand and also your bank card on the other. And based on the agreement, it is without any additional costs on our citizens.
“So when you apply for a card at your bank, you can indicate that ‘I want this card to be multiple purposes where it will serve as my bank card and also my national identity card’.
”Both of them are going to be printed on the same card and it is going to serve the same purposes without any additional costs.”
The Minister disclosed that NIMC and the CBN signed a nondisclosure agreement to protect the privacy and confidentiality of card applicants. He assured of the privacy and confidentiality of card users.
Pantami further stated that, when a person requests for the card, the bank will need to connect to the NIMC through their database.