Nigeria launches national biometric identity card

3 Sep 2014

Nigeria has become one of the first countries in the world to launch biometric identity cards which, by 2019, will need to be owned by every citizen living there.

Nigeria has signed a deal with MasterCard to provide the biometric cards, which will also enable Nigerians to make electronic payments and provide those without bank accounts with access to financial services, BBC reported.

With the person’s biometric data on the card, it will act as an identification system that should be fool-proof, preventing both identify fraud as well as a means of voting in national elections.

Figures from Bloomberg have shown that Nigeria’s population is, by a considerable margin, existing off the financial grid with only 30pc of the country’s 167m people having access to a bank account.

With this new card, the process needed to establish an account could be bypassed.

On the card will appear all the person’s basic information, including name, age, a unique ID number, and 10 sets of fingerprint and iris scan images.

Receiving the first card to be issued, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, said it was an important step for the Nigerian people.

“I have taken keen interest in this project, primarily because of the pervasive impact it can have on every facet of the socio-economic fabric of our dear nation.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic