The Nigerian National Electronic Identity (e-ID) card, powered by MasterCard, has been named “the Best Financial Inclusion Product” at this year’s Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Card, ATM and Mobile Expo Awards, held in Lagos last week. Supported by Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System and CBN, the award recognises the payment product that has effectively expanded financial inclusion and advanced Nigeria’s cashless policy.
The National e-ID card with MasterCard’s prepaid payments functionality is currently being issued by the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to 13 million Nigerians 16 years and older as part of a pilot program launched in August 2014. Upon completion of the pilot program, NIMC plans to introduce more than 100 million cards to Nigeria’s 170 million citizens, making this the largest rollout of a an electronic payment solution in the country and the broadest financial inclusion program in Africa.“We are extremely honoured to receive this prestigious award, which recognises the strides we are making in providing a convenient, safe, and cost effective electronic payments product to Nigerians - 64 percent of whom do not have a bank account,” says Barr. Chris ‘E Onyemenam, Director General and CEO of NIMC.
|R-L: Kenny Teller of MasterCard, Mrs Onadeko and Mrs Ejiofor staffs of NIMC and Taiwo Adebayo of MasterCard.|
“Combining an identity card with MasterCard’s prepaid payment capability creates a game changer as it breaks down the most significant barrier to financial inclusion – proof of identity - while simultaneously enabling Nigerians to access state-of-the-art financial services.”
Using the e-ID as a payments tool, cardholders can deposit funds, save, withdraw cash at ATMs, and pay for goods and services at any of the millions of MasterCard acceptance locations globally or via online shopping portals. The card also enables citizens to receive funds electronically including government subsidies, social grants, salaries and other disbursements, rather than physically transporting themselves to receive the cash, which is costly, unsafe and inconvenient.
“Too many people lack access to the most basic financial services, leaving them trapped in a cash economy that imposes greater risks and costs on those least able to afford them,” says Omokehinde Ojomuyide, Vice President and Area Business Head for West Africa, MasterCard. “Through the e-ID program, we are creating an avenue to help citizens better manage their finances, and participate in the mainstream economy.”
Ojomuyide says the broader economic impact of the card will be felt as the previously unbanked build a financial history, which enables them to secure loans from financial institutions. Small Medium Enterprises will be able to access the financing they need to grow their businesses, in turn creating jobs and sharing in the opportunities for economic growth enjoyed by wealthier segments of the population.
The card’s electronic payments capability also enables the Government to minimize fraud and corruption, reduce leakages and generate significant savings, as it digitizes cash payments and formalizes the shadow economy.
The announcement signals the second accolade awarded to the NIMC in as many months, with the Smart Card and Payments Awards (Middle East) 2015 naming the National e-ID card as “The Best Payment Initiative in Africa” in May 2015.
“We are proud to be associated this program, which has already received recognition globally, and congratulate NIMC on this notable achievement,” says Ojomuyide. “Making financial inclusion a reality is central to our business and we look forward to working with NIMC and our other partners to achieve our vision of a cashless, more inclusive, Nigeria.”