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FG approves policy to enable banks issue debit cards that serve as national IDs

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The federal executive council (FEC) has approved a new policy that allows commercial banks to issue customers with debit cards that double as national identity cards at no extra cost.

The council gave the approval on Wednesday at a meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, Isa Pantami, minister of communication and digital economy, said the directive was from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), allowing banks to print debit cards that double as national identity cards.

“It is going to be a form of the 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,” the minister said.

Pantami said although the NIMC Act of 2007, only mandates Nigerians to have a NIN and not necessarily a printout card, demands for cards have swelled nonetheless.

“As in the NIMC Act of 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,” Pantami added.

“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, NIMC has partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) so citizens who are interested in having a card at hand can easily go to the relevant banks.

“The bank is permitted to print the card along with either a Mastercard or Visa card. It is going to be a form of a 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 to our citizens.

“So when you apply for a card at your bank, you can indicate that ‘I want this card to serve 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 also said NIMC and the CBN had signed an agreement to protect card applicants.

He said the two entities signed a nondisclosure agreement where customers’ privacy and confidentiality must be respected in the course of providing the cards.

“When you apply for the card, the bank will apply online to NIMC through their database. When they verify and confirm that your record in the database is in alignment with your record in the NIMC database, it will be permitted and the card is going to be printed for you immediately,” Pantami explained.


Pantami said the council also approved a memo proposing the deployment of an automated system to integrate NINs with individual SIM cards.

The system, he said, is to consolidate the implementation of the NIN-SIM linkage.

“As we all know, the previous administrations made efforts to verify NIN and SIM starting from 2011 without success,” Pantami said.

“In February 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the implementation of the policy, and the revised version of the policy was also launched and unveiled by Mr. President on May 6, 2021.

“As it stands today, the NIN and SIM policy registration is being implemented.

“In order to consolidate the implementation, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) came up with a proposal that will enhance the implementation of the policy and bring many more benefits to it.”

The minister assured that the automated system would sanitise the database and ease the process of SIM replacement for Nigerians or legal residents.

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