The federal government says Nigerians can now request their commercial banks to issue them with a debit card which doubles as their National Identity Card at no extra cost.
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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja, said the approval was obtained at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He explained 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.
He said: “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 Mr 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 the 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, Mr 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.
The minister disclosed that NIMC and the CBN signed a nondisclosure agreement to protect the privacy and confidentiality of card applicants.