September 20, 2020
Nigeria can unlock its full economic potentials if majority (if not all) of its citizens have digital identity as proposed by the National Identity programme. This call was made by Mitchell Elegbe, Founder and Group Managing Director, Interswitch Group, during a webinar organised by TechCabal in partnership with VerifyMe themed: ‘Enabling Nigeria’s economic and social growth with digital identity’ that held on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.
He stated that the digital identity database will help Nigerian businesses fasten their growth trajectory where everyone involved across the transacting spectrum can be easily identified. He emphasised the need for financial service providers to ensure due diligence in carrying out Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols. According to him, this will help businesses and their customers complete business transactions faster.
Elegbe also noted that having a single database would aid easy identification of citizens which is vital for development. “At Interswitch, identity is critical because of the nature of our business and the regulations we adhere to. We believe that provided there is the need to exchange value, irrespective of the form, there is need for some form of identity. However, a real challenge is verifying the individuals outside the formal sector. Developers, businesses and economies would better achieve their economic potentials if the individuals involved are digitally captured and are easily verifiable. This will in turn reduce fraud and drive growth,” he said.
In order to drive up data acquisition to enable this desired growth, Elegbe advised that there is the need to offer incentives that will encourage people across board to get captured. He also clarified the need for cross referencing of data to ensure that identities are not stolen. He explained that current data available are disparate and in silos, so cross referencing and electronic capturing will reduce these inconsistencies.
Also speaking at the webinar was Esigie Aguele, Co-Founder and CEO, VerifyMe Nigeria, he corroborated Elegbe’s position, adding that it was imperative for stakeholders in the identity space to provide a central and comprehensive digital identity database which he opined will enhance security, revenue collection, taxes and jobs creation.
The webinar was organized by TechCabal in partnership with VerifyMe to mark the International ID-Day while examining how digital identity unlocks the immense potential in Nigeria’s e-governance and digital economy specifically, as it relates to growth in non-oil revenue streams such as fintech and e-commerce.