President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered commercial banks to issue a debit card that doubles as their national identity card at no extra cost.
Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami announced this in Abuja after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council.
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.
“It is going to be a form of the multipurpose card where it will serve as your national identity card on the one hand and also your bank card on the other hand, either Mastercard, Visa or any other kind of card,” Mr Pantami stated.
According to the minister, 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,” the communications minister explained.
He added, “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 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.
“It is going to be a form of a multipurpose card that will serve as your national identity card on the one hand and also your bank card on the other. And based on the agreement, it is without any additional costs on our citizens,” the minister stated. “So when you apply for a card at your bank, you can indicate that ‘I want this card to be multiple-purpose where it will serve as my bank card and also my national identity card’.”