Nigerians can now obtain a debit card from their commercial banks that will also serve as their national identity card, according to the Federal Government, News About Nigeria reports.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami, made this announcement in Abuja, stating that there would be no cost associated with obtaining the card.
The approval for this initiative was granted during a meeting of the Federal Executive Council, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Pantami explained that the approval was based on a memorandum from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), which permitted banks to print multipurpose debit cards functioning as national identity cards.
The multipurpose card would serve as both a national identity card and a bank card, such as Mastercard or Visa.
Although the NIMC Act of 2007 mandates Nigerians to possess a National Identity Number (NIN) rather than a physical card, there has been a growing demand for the cards.
Many citizens, particularly those residing in rural areas, have expressed the need for the physical card, despite its optional status.
In response to this, NIMC introduced a smart ID card last year, which can be downloaded from the NIMC app.
However, the accessibility of the smart card has been a challenge for people in rural communities.
To address this challenge, NIMC has partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria, allowing interested citizens to obtain the card easily from relevant banks.
Banks are authorized to print the card along with a Mastercard or Visa card.
The multipurpose card will serve as both the national identity card and the bank card, with no additional costs for citizens.
To ensure privacy and confidentiality, NIMC and the Central Bank have signed a nondisclosure agreement.
When applying for the card at the bank, the person’s details will be verified against the NIMC database.
Once the verification is complete, the card will be printed immediately for the user.
Additionally, the Federal Executive Council approved a proposal to deploy an automated system for integrating NINs with individual SIM cards.
This system aims to consolidate the implementation of the NIN-SIM linkage.
Previous administrations have attempted to verify NIN and SIM card details since 2011, without success.
However, in February 2020, President Buhari approved the implementation of the policy, and a revised version was launched in May 2021.
The Nigerian Communications Commission proposed an automated system to enhance the implementation of the policy and improve the process of SIM replacement for Nigerians and legal residents.
The deployment of this system will streamline the database and simplify the SIM replacement process, while ensuring the successful implementation of the NIN-SIM policy.