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New Nigerian ID Card Includes Prepay MasterCard Wallet 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the identification-and-credit-report-please dept.
First time accepted submitter Adam Oxford writes Nigeria's National Identity Management System — which aims to bring together citizen information databases as diverse as driving licenses and tax returns — was introduced last week and includes a prepay MasterCard wallet. Civil liberties groups are naturally wary about the project, but proponents see it as a way to get financial services to the masses. From the article: "The director general of the commission which will implement NIMS, Chris 'E Onyemenam, said at the launch that the card will eventually be used for border control as well. 'There are many use cases for the card, including the potential to use it as an international travel document,' Onyemenam said. 'NIMC is focused on inclusive citizenship, more effective governance, and the creation of a cashless economy, all of which will stimulate economic growth, investment and trade.'"
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New Nigerian ID Card Includes Prepay MasterCard Wallet

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  • 419 (Score:2, Funny)

    by MPAB (1074440)

    'nuff said!

    • Re:419 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday September 01, 2014 @02:16PM (#47801469)

      While the "419 scam" is associated with Nigeria, many of the scammers are not actually Nigerian. The Economist published an article [economist.com] about why. For the scammers, a major cost is leads that turn out to not be credulous enough to actually send money. So many non-Nigerian scammers claim to be Nigerian, figuring that Nigeria's reputation for corruption and crime will weed out all but the stupidest respondents.

      This CC/ID should help with the corruption and crime. It is easy for a corrupt official to take a bribe in cash, but much harder with a CC. Likewise, a thief wants to steal cash, not a pre-paid CC without knowing the PIN. It will also make collecting taxes easier. In poor countries, pervasive tax evasion means not enough money for infrastructure, or to pay sufficient salaries to government employees so that they work for their salary rather the opportunity to extort bribes. A broader tax base will also pull more people into the formal economy, rather than low productivity work in subsistence farming or running small street stalls.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        A broader tax base will also pull more people into the formal economy, rather than low productivity work in subsistence farming or running small street stalls.

        That assumes there are jobs for them in the "formal economy". Otherwise it just puts them out of work, period.

        Just sayin'.

      • by russotto (537200)

        In poor countries, pervasive tax evasion means not enough money for infrastructure, or to pay sufficient salaries to government employees so that they work for their salary rather the opportunity to extort bribes.

        Right, because government officials are all pure and good and if they got all the taxes that selfish individuals are evading they would definitely use them for infrastructure rather than, say, off-shore "exit funds" or 400 pairs of shoes for their wife or palatial estates in their otherwise squalor

        • by jandersen (462034)

          The prevalance of the informal (untaxed) economy is a symptom, not a cause. Cracking down on it misses the point and makes things worse.

          Just like the financial crisis was not caused by corrupt bankers being given far too much freedom, but instead by 'too-much-regulation', as the mantra goes? I really would have hoped that the banking crisis at least would have put an end to the anti-regulation ideology.

          It really is quite simple: the sort of freedom that means nothing more than 'anti-regulation', favours the strong, ruthless and un-conscientious at the cost of everybody else, particularly the most vulnerable. This is not just speculation - w

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Dear Sir,
      I am an attorney for a very wealthy person, actually a member of Nigerian royalty
      We are sincerely requesting your assistance in a matter of the greatest urgency
      My client has lost the ability to withdraw money from his national id card wallet, and we require your assistance in this manner
      Apparently he has deposited too much money for his account to work properly and we need for you to withdraw the money from the American account and forward it to us
      You will be well rewarded for this service
      Thank you

  • by Wootery (1087023) on Monday September 01, 2014 @01:53PM (#47801293)

    Are Mastercard paying for the privilege?

    • by Guppy (12314)

      Are Mastercard paying for the privilege?

      I wouldn't be surprised if they are. Of course, they are likely also anticipating that long-term, the flow of cash will turn the other way around.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It'll certainly come in handy for both mastercard AND the government later on when "outstanding balance" becomes a reason you can't cross the border. All you have to do is add a little 'flag'...

        Either way MC's gonna be swimming in the dough, as like with most gargantuan financial institutions, they make much of their money by taking the money put into them (including in this case debts and interest) and investing in stocks with it.

        • Is MasterCard a bank or a franchise? In South Africa, I cannot get a MasterCard or Visa that isn't an offering by a separate financial services provider, unlike American Express or Diner's Club. MasterCard gets transaction fees from vendors and the annual anniversary fee from myself. The FSP holds the account and the actual credit/debit balance.

          • by u38cg (607297)
            Mastercard is the network that ties together you, the merchant, and your account provider. I don't think Mastercard have ever offered their own accounts, though Visa used to (I remember UK credit cards that were nothing but the Visa logo).
        • by Wycliffe (116160)

          Either way MC's gonna be swimming in the dough, as like with most gargantuan financial institutions, they make much of their money by taking the money put into them (including in this case debts and interest) and investing in stocks with it.

          Um, no. That's not how credit cards works at least in the US. In the US, credit cards don't have float that they can invest in the stock market.
          You can't invest "debt and interest" in the stock market. You can sell "debt and interest" to other people but you can't invest a negative.
          Insurance companies have float and some (like warren buffet) are grandfathered in and allowed to invest in the stock market.
          Credit card companies have "reverse float". They are giving away float to their customers so they hav

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01, 2014 @01:55PM (#47801309)

    What simpler than to require everyone to carry a minimum positive balance lest the card is not valid? What simpler idea than for the government to help itself to said balance in case of fines?

    I honestly expect this to be touted as a corruption curbing measure as well as humanitarian aid and access to financial services, and then to turn out to be effectively a modern day debt bondage tool. That is, your identity is literally worthless if there's no money on the attached "prepaid" card.

    Very cunning move, Nigerian Government. Putting a Royal face on underhanded crookedness, indeed. I salute you, my dear valued friends!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sad that a sovereign country needs to rely on a multinational for this type of thing. What access dies MasterCard have to the data of citizens?

    • by TWX (665546) on Monday September 01, 2014 @02:08PM (#47801409)

      That is, your identity is literally worthless if there's no money on the attached "prepaid" card.

      Heh. Kind of like how if you want to do anything with significant amounts of money in the United States, they require that you allow them to do a credit check on you first?

      Neighbors were getting solar put on their roof. We figured it wouldn't hurt to talk to the salesman since he was there. He wanted to run a credit-check on us. We laughed in his face. We'll consent to a credit check only when we're at the stage of seeking to actually borrow money, and basically that means only for the purchases of vehicles and real property, and we do it on our terms, through our bank, in advance, not on the terms of some merchant and certainly not through their financing people.

      Most people here don't do that. They will go in cold, without having any sort of in-advance approved financing from a lender that they already have a relationship with, and will get screwed. Makes me wonder if this situation in Nigeria will work out the same way for the vast majority of people there, as they won't have sought in-advance to get the backing they need, and will ultimately pay more for whatever because of it.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday September 01, 2014 @06:44PM (#47802997) Journal
        As best I can tell, 'credit check' either has, or is rapidly, mutating into a polite euphemism for 'background check with slight additional emphasis on personal finances'.

        It's one thing that somebody might want a credit check if they are loaning me money; but anyone who won't STFU about it(or does; but then runs one anyway) if you offer to pay in cash or a suitably-blessed transfer from a reputable bank is either running directly from a script or interested in something other than credit-worthiness.
        • by Chelloveck (14643)
          When buying something expensive (like a home solar array) the salesman wants a credit check up front to know that you actually have some chance of paying for it. If you can't afford it he's not going to waste his time talking to you. If you can afford more he knows to push hard for an upsell. It's a shitty way of doing business, but that's how it's done.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      there's no reason to carry positive on it, it's a prepay card.

      besides, if mastercard shafts them, they could just implement the backend themselves.

      HOWEVER.. having such card would make it rather easy for them to move official business to using said card for payments and that might cut 95% of sticky fingers.

    • Clearly there is so little actual malfeasance on the part of the Nigerian government these days we are reduced to speculating on fictional malfeasance of the future.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday September 01, 2014 @06:36PM (#47802951) Journal
      Why would you nuke an ID with a negative balance on it?

      Even assuming arbitrary malice, it's just not efficient. A debt that the debtor can't afford to pay is a debt you don't get to collect.

      In legally and organizationally primitive contexts, like premodern governments or Big Vinny's extralegal lending operation, you do see unproductive means used(debtor's prisons, kneecapping, death); because there simply isn't a way of keeping a debtor on the hook otherwise. In some premodern society where you can move a few towns over and nobody's ever heard of you, playing collections agent is unrewarding. If the loan was extended off the books and doesn't legally exist, your ability to get it paid back by anything other than extralegal means is similarly curtailed.

      The ideal situation, for the lender, is one where the target's earning capacity is not impaired, so they'll be able to pay as much as possible; but where they find it either impossible or undesirable to just walk away from the situation. In the case of debt peonage, the debtors are usually at approximately slave levels of human capital investment anyway, so punitive measures don't reduce their(already miserable) earning capacity much; but in almost all cases of better qualified debtors, you really want to touch them as little as possible; but make it impossible to walk away from the debt.

      A nice, functional, modern bureaucracy is perfect for that. Without a valid ID that correlates to a suitable history of references, educational credentials, clean criminal record, etc. your life gets a hell of a lot more difficult, and probably poorer, even if you can evade any formal state action against impersonation/non-documented-persons. This provides a considerable incentive to remain at the table; and makes it relatively hard to escape your past. Why shove somebody who owes you money out of that place(where they can still hold a job and make payments, and have a lot to lose if they try to fake their own death or something) and into the underground economy, where they'll probably earn next to nothing and have much less interaction with formalized institutions?

      The ability to keep tabs on people across time and place, without necessarily imprisoning or killing them, is about the biggest advance in history for anyone looking to profit from credit.
  • by Technician (215283) on Monday September 01, 2014 @02:01PM (#47801365)

    Placing all your ID travel documents and cash in one basket is a really good idea.. Not.

    • Placing all your ID travel documents and cash in one basket is a really good idea.. Not.

      Given that all of the above would be in the same wallet anyway, I don't really think you have a valid concern.

      The government confiscating all your cash in a time of financial turmoil however... that's pretty much guaranteed to happen.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        The government confiscating all your cash in a time of financial turmoil however... that's pretty much guaranteed to happen.

        If they had wanted to be truly innovative... the card would not be a Mastercard, but a Bitcoin hardware wallet, where the user would have to program it with their Public/Private key pair, and each citizen would be given at least three... one pair of e-cards primary/backup, and a paper document that could be used to prove ID in order to replace documents in case the other two were

        • The government confiscating all your cash in a time of financial turmoil however... that's pretty much guaranteed to happen.

          If they had wanted to be truly innovative... the card would not be a Mastercard, but a Bitcoin hardware wallet,
          where the user would have to program it with their Public/Private key pair, and each citizen would be given at least
          three... one pair of e-cards primary/backup, and a paper document that could be used to prove ID in order to replace
          documents in case the other two were lost, so they could carry the first, lockup the second someplace safe, and put the third in a safety deposit vault.

          It's Africa, the later 2 likely do not exist for the majority of citizens. I went there a few years back and it changed my entire world view. The people are poorer than you could possibly imagine compared to the US. You could be literally dieing in the street and nothing could be done for you. Fall out of a tree and no-one you know is around? you're screwed. (I actually witnessed a man die in this very way) But despite that incredible poverty, everyone has a feature phone with built in calculator, messaging

          • It's also the case(not just in Africa; but across jurisdictions) that if 'Oh, sure, just put it in the safe deposit box' is a sound strategy, your banking system is probably sufficiently un-doomed that bitcoins are mostly a hobby.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sure... I bet you keep each credit card on a different pocket, your passport in your fanny pack, driver licence and money in your socks... I just wonder where do you stick your coins?

      • Is that sarcasm? In reality, I don't generaly carry credit cards at all. I do have some, but they are used very sparingly.

        Learn the credit card company's tricks. Have a high balance card? Get a great cash advance offer for 6 months? Beware. All your payments go toward the main balance and the great cash advance is untouched and then jumps to high interest after the introduction period. Buy a pair of socks or other purchases? Guess what your paymnets go towards while your cash advance at the higher r

    • I seem to have missed the part where Nigerians were prohibited from having any other financial instrument. Could you please quote that part?

      The actual problem was Nigerians who couldn't get access to *any* instrument at all, i.e. they didn't even have one basket to put anything in, so now they are guaranteed at least one. There is nothing here stopping those who can get something under more favorable terms from doing so.

    • by Yakasha (42321)

      Placing all your ID travel documents and cash in one basket is a really good idea.. Not.

      5 minutes ago I would have said you're a Luddite that fears the modern age of convenience.

      u no i nt in my phon n my ih m topp okin [slashdot.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01, 2014 @02:02PM (#47801369)

    This appears to be a trend on /. recently: Plugging your own writing, often no more than polished blogs, published on some web-rag. Not that much a problem if you both have something to say and don't over-use the plugging. If either, or increasingly, both aren't true, then it gets grating. Even worse if the website is unreadable due to incessant reinventing of the wheel, badly, using gobs and gobs of javascript where a little html3 would have done Just Fine. But even if that's all sorted, it still would be courteous to admit your affiliations.

  • Every card will have 666 in its number.
    • by ka9dgx (72702)

      You do mean 616, don't you? Its bad enough when governments break their promise to pay money for currency.. the ability to take all of your money and your identity in one fell swoop seem to be the ultimate tool for sorting out Serfs and Lords.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01, 2014 @02:34PM (#47801603)

    In Sweden you atomaticly get an account a a bank when you have a SSN, paid taxes. Think you get it in Nordea issued by the goverment. They are 100% free by law. So Nigerian goverment have parted with MasterCard, and this is a story?

    • Americans get a glimpse of how the civilized world operates, and the only word they have to describe it is "witchcraft".

  • Can I have an ID card that is JUST and ID card, with a driver's license that is a separate piece of paper/plastic?

    When I present my ID card to cash a check, clear airport security, etc. it's none of anyone's business if I have a driver's license.

    After all, other government-issued licenses like concealed-handgun permits, hunting permits, and professional licenses (engineering, medical, etc.) typically aren't on the same piece of plastic as your state-issued ID card. My bank doesn't know or care if I have (o

  • by triso (67491) on Monday September 01, 2014 @04:13PM (#47802241) Homepage

    Nigeria already hes a cashless economy Nobody has any money.

    • You obviously have not encountered the traditional Nigerian "Cash Madame" (Ola Iya) or been to any Nigerian parties - there is a Nigerian tradition of "spraying money".
  • I always wondered why we have not advanced to the point of using our DNA or similar as a PIN. Exhaled breath condensate is a non-invasive method for detecting a wide number of molecules as well as genomic DNA in the airways and could easily be a source of information usable as an ID Verification technique.

  • ... push other prepaid cards out of the market?

    I can see one problem: If it is known that you carry a combo ID/cash card (because the law requires it) other cash cards may no longer be accepted. And those other cash cards might have been anonymous.

  • I've worked in a couple of African countries near Nigeria and saw many very shoddy ID cards. They were so bad that people would share them for a variety of unsavory reasons. If they have some money tied to it, perhaps they will look good enough to actually identify people and those people will have a strong incentive to actually hold on to their own IDs. That said, after dealing with various government officials, I imagine the system will be used for evil due to rampant corruption.

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