BY Prince Osuagwu
The Nigeria Content Advocacy Initiative NICADI, a multi-sector vehicle for the domestication of Nigeria information technology (IT) products and services has called on the Federal Government to quickly cancel the award of the printing of national identity cards to MasterCard International, an American company as it negates the spirit of local content development and national security.
Last week in the presence of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy in Nigeria, MasterCard announced at the World Economic Forum on Africa, that it will roll-out 13 million MasterCard-branded National Identity Smart Cards for Nigerians, under the recently deployed National Identity Management System (NIMS) managed by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
NiCADI said the contract terms in which MasterCard will pick the huge contract will rely on Nigerian companies which have all the wherewithal to implement the project as sub-contractors, adding that it was healthy for Nigeria’s march to becoming major force in the emerging global political economy.
Spokesperson to the association, Mr. Ken Ugbechie, said: “We are happy that high level competencies for processing and issuance of payment cards resides in eTranzact Limited, 3Line Nigeria Limited and Interswitch Limited in Nigeria. So it is inconceivable that such business should be given to an American company whose primary interest is to buffer American economy.
“We also know that all MasterCard payments processing in Nigeria are being handled competently by Interswitch, Card Technology Limited and Unified Payments Limited. Today, over 70 per cent of bank customers in Nigeria use Verve payments cards from Interswitch, Genesis Payment cards from eTranzact and Freedom Card from 3 Line Card Management Limited for their day-to-day payment transactions.
“What then is the rationale for giving the payments transactions of our National ID to MasterCard, a foreign company? We have on good authority that the combined workforce of the three Nigerian firms with competencies in payment cards system runs into over 300 high-skilled staff, whereas MasterCard can only boast of a handful of Nigerians working as marketing executives for the company”, he added.
Ugbechie added that: “We are convinced that this deal would further accentuate the unemployment problems in Nigeria.
According to a statement issued by MasterCard, it will rely on Unified Payments Services Limited (formerly Valucard), as the payment processor with Access Bank Plc as the pilot issuer bank for the cards while other issuing banks will include United Bank for Africa, Union Bank, Zenith, Skye Bank, Unity Bank, Stanbic and First Bank.