• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

How Access Bank partners MasterCard to break financial inclusion barrier

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 The ongoing efforts in the financial services sector to penetrate the unbanked population in the financial inclusion project has received a bite, as firms through collaborations are devising strategies to key into the development drive.

One of them, Access Bank, has partnered MasterCard in conjunction with the Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NNIMC) to roll out 13 million MasterCard-branded National Identity Smart Cards (NISC) with electronic payment capability, as a pilot programme. This was revealed on the sidelines at the recently concluded World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa.

This is part of Access Bank’s effort to promote the cashless and financial inclusion policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The project will have Access Bank as the pilot issuer bank for the cards, and Unified Payment Services Limited (Unified Payments) as the payment processor. Other issuing banks will include United Bank for Africa, Union Bank, Zenith Bank, Skye Bank, Unity Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, and FirstBank.

The new NISC will incorporate the unique National Identification Numbers (NIN) of duly registered persons in the country. The enrolment process involves the recording of an individual’s demographic data and biometric data (capture of 10 fingerprints, facial picture and digital signature) that are used to authenticate the cardholder and eliminate fraud and embezzlement. The resultant National Identity Database will provide the platform for several other value propositions of the NIMC, including identity authentication and verification.

According to Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the bank’s group managing director, “Access Bank’s involvement in this project is testament to our ongoing efforts to expand financial inclusion in Nigeria. The new identity card will revolutionise the Nigerian economic landscape, breaking down one of the most significant barriers to financial inclusion – proof of identity, while simultaneously providing Nigerians with a world-class payment solution.”

Also speaking on the development, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, minister of finance, noted that the programme will bring everyone on a common platform for interaction with the various government agencies and for transacting electronically. “We will implement this initiative in a collaborative manner between the public and private sectors, to achieve its full potential of inclusive citizenship and more effective governance,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

Earlier, Michael Miebach, president, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard, said “MasterCard has been a firm supporter of the CBN’s cashless policy and has provided the Federal Government of Nigeria with global insights and best practices on how electronic payments can enable economic growth and create a more financially inclusive economy.”

Chris ‘E Onyemenam, director-general/chief executive, National Identity Management Commission, said MasterCard was chosen as the payment technology provider for the initial rollout of the NISC project because of the company’s commitment to furthering financial inclusion through the reduction of cash in the Nigerian economy.

The NISC is the Card Scheme under the recently deployed National Identity Management System (NIMS). This programme is the largest rollout of a formal electronic payment solution in the country and the broadest financial inclusion initiative of its kind on the African continent.

As part of the programme, in its first phase, Nigerians – 16 years and above, and all residents in the country for more than two years, will get the new multipurpose identity card that has 13 applications, including MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology that will provide cardholders with the safety, convenience and reliability of electronic payments.

Upon completion of the National ID registration process, NIMC aims to introduce more than 100 million cards to Nigeria’s 167 million citizens.