The Federal Government has ordered commercial banks to issue debit cards to Nigerians so they can use them as their identity cards.
This was revealed to State House reporters by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, following the final Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He claimed that Nigerians can now ask their banks to issue them with debit cards at no additional charge.
The minister also said that the authorization came as a result of a note from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) authorizing banks to produce dual-purpose debit cards.
He said: “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.”
Pantami said although the NIMC Act 2007 only mandates Nigerians to have a National Identity Number and not necessarily a printout card, demands for cards had increased in the country.
He added: “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, 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.
“The banks are permitted to print the card along with either 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 be 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 disclosed that NIMC and the CBN had signed a nondisclosure agreement to protect the privacy and confidentiality of card applicants.
“NIMC and the CBN signed a nondisclosure agreement where your privacy and your confidentiality must be respected in the course of providing the card for you.
“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,” the minister concluded