The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said the newly-introduced National Electronic Identity Card (e-ID) will not only immediately remove trust barriers which characterised business dealings between Nigerians and the outside world but also promote cross-border trade and economic prosperity of Nigerians.
He said the new identity/payment card will further usher Nigerians to first class payment solutions hinged on electronic transactions as a result of improved identity management in the country.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja on the newly-launched National e-ID Card by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in collaboration with Access Bank, he said the innovation would greatly facilitate financial inclusion.
He said the launch of the card meant “quite a lot not just for access bank but for the entire banking industry. The national identity card scheme solves a lot of problems. First, it helps in what banks call know your customer (KYC) which basically identifies your customer.
“But it is more important than all of that; it helps reduce the negative biases people have about Nigerians just because there was no identity card and so anybody from anywhere can claim to be a Nigerian.”
According to the Access Bank boss: “Because there are unique identification features that are done biometrically, it would also reduce the security challenges we have as a country because you can now truly identify everybody and have everyone’s details and where they come from in the country.”
He said importantly, apart from being an identity card, it also serves as a payment card which supports an electronic card mechanism. He also allayed fears that the new national ID may likely render banks’ debit cards redundant.”
According to him: “ATM cards would always exist because you need a card to take money from the ATM as well. But what it (e-ID) does is that it cuts across the entire spectrum of the population to poor people who can now take their money on their cards.”
Wigwe said: “We are excited by the challenge of maintaining our leadership status as the most innovative bank in Nigeria and are encouraged to champion initiatives that support financial inclusion as well as propel our great nation to greater heights. And so for us, it is yet another step to show our own contribution to nation building.”
He added that the card would boost banking inclusion as it covers every Nigerian from birth to death irrespective of where they come from and where they live.
Further emphasising the benefits of the e-ID, he said: “We are coming from a situation where there is no proper identity- you have fake drivers’ licenses, you had nothing. Now when all of these (biometric data from various sources) coalesce, it then means that truly you can find a single version of truth of what is your identity.”
He said: “Because it is biometric in nature, if your name is Herbert Wigwe, you cannot change that name because my thumb print and everything is on it. So if there’s fraud, you can trace who the person is and where he is. He cannot hide because his payment details are all there.”