Just a few weeks after the Nigerian government launched a new national electronic Identity Card (eID) initiative to produce cards that can also be used for e-commerce, the Kenyan government is reportedly making similar moves to integrate banking into the planned national electronic identity cards and further boost financial inclusion in Kenya.

This was disclosed by Fred Matiang’I who hinted that the proposal for a payment enabled national eID had been submitted to the Ministry of Interior and Coordination which oversees an ongoing exercise to transition the country away from manual public record keeping.

“All East African Community member countries are required by the EAC protocol to have new generation IDs before the end of June, 2015. The suggestions we have made on the kind of new generation ID that Kenya should have include a tool that will make it a payment card,” he said recently.

Similar to the model for Nigeria’s eID cards, the proposed cards for Kenyans are to host the biometric details of the owner and also provide information on voter registration, driving license and international passports. Banks that operate across the East African Community (EAC) are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries as the card will boost access of their services to customers.

“After we release the sample of the new generation ID, please feel free to make suggestions on what it should contain,” he further said.

The Kenya Bankers Association has hailed this development, welcoming it with open arms. CEO of the Association, Habil Olaka, noted that this sort of integration will greatly benefit the banking sector by way of easing the stress associated with cross border operations for banks.

“This type of card can be used in ATMs of different banks thereby eliminating the need for carrying many cards. We welcome it but the security risks posed by such a system will need to be thoroughly scrutinized,” he commented.

By Emmanuel Iruobe

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