Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Nigeria is moving to electronic payments via MasterCard Worldwide-branded prepaid cards. In early May 2013, MasterCard reported at the World Economic Forum on Africa that it had entered into a pilot program with the Nigerian National Identity Management Commission for a national identity prepaid smart card. The pilot, which involves the rolling out of 13 million MasterCard-branded identification payment cards in the West African country, is the largest and broadest financial inclusion initiative of its kind on the African continent, the card brand said.
The National Identity Smart Card, which is targeted at unbanked Nigerians aged 16 years and older, will leverage Nigeria's National Identification Numbers (NIN) database in combination with an enrollment process that involves the recording of individuals' demographic and biometric data. Biometrics are comprised of fingerprints, facial picture and digital signature designed to authenticate cardholders and eliminate fraud and embezzlement.
The resulting National Identity Database will reportedly be the basis for other authentication and verification implementations, such as for driver's licenses, voter registration, health insurance, taxes, telecommunications and government benefits. As a Europay/MasterCard/Visa chip and PIN-enabled prepaid payment card, the National Identity Smart Card will be used to deposit funds, receive benefit payments and make purchases online and in brick-and-mortar locations.
MasterCard said that after the registration process is completed, it is expected that over 100 million National Identity Smart Cards will be introduced into the Nigerian population of 167 million. Access Bank PLC, a commercial bank in Nigeria, and Nigeria-based Unified Payment Services Ltd. will serve as the issuing bank and processor, respectively, for the pilot.
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