The Federal Executive Council has granted approval to a memorandum presented by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), allowing commercial banks in Nigeria to issue debit cards that also serve as National identity cards. This development means that Nigerians can now request a debit card from their banks, which will double as their National Identity Card without incurring additional fees.
During a valedictory meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Aso Rock Villa, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, informed State House Correspondents about the new initiative. He explained that the multipurpose card will function both as a national identity card and a bank card, such as MasterCard or Visa.
Under the NIMC Act of 2007, possessing a National Identity Number (NIN) is mandatory for Nigerian citizens and legal residents, while the physical card is optional. However, there has been a growing demand for the cards, especially from citizens residing in rural areas. To address this, NIMC introduced a smart ID card that can be downloaded from the NIMC app. However, access to the app proved challenging for those in rural communities.
To alleviate this difficulty, NIMC has partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to enable interested citizens to obtain the card from their respective banks. Banks will be authorized to print the multipurpose card, alongside a MasterCard or Visa card, without any additional cost to the citizens. Applicants can indicate their preference for a card serving both as a bank card and a national identity card during the application process.
The minister assured the public that privacy and confidentiality would be safeguarded throughout the card issuance process. NIMC and the CBN have signed a non-disclosure agreement to ensure the protection of applicants’ personal information.
In addition to this development, the Federal Executive Council also approved a memorandum proposing the deployment of an automated system to link NINs with individual SIM cards. This system aims to streamline the NIN-SIM linkage process and enhance its implementation. Previous attempts to verify NINs and SIM cards had been unsuccessful, but the revised policy, implemented in February 2020 and launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2021, has paved the way for progress.
Minister Pantami expressed confidence that the automated system would improve the database and simplify the process of SIM replacement for Nigerian citizens and legal residents.
The implementation of these initiatives highlights the government’s commitment to leveraging technology for greater efficiency and convenience in identity management and SIM registration processes. Nigerians can look forward to accessing multipurpose debit cards that combine their national identity and banking needs seamlessly, all while ensuring the protection of their personal information.