Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson has said she foresees a situation in the near future where card-based financial transactions will dominate the country’s business environment.
Johnson, who spoke at the just-concluded 12th edition of Card Expo in Lagos, said: “I believed that Nigerians are at the tipping point of a card explosion, not only because of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) drive to reduce the cost and risk of cash payments by promoting cashless transactions via cards and mobile phones, but also because cards are now been used as more than a vehicle for financial transactions.”
She said as the threshold for cash transactions gets lower, either through guidelines or changes in customer behaviour, the number of Nigerians that will migrate to card transactions will also increase.
“The technology embedded in these cards varies significantly, from the magnetic stripe, to the chip and pin cards to the fairly sophisticated multi-purpose cards that have been adopted for our national identity management scheme,” Johnson said.
She added that cards were now seen as not only a vehicle for convenient and safe financial transactions but as means of security assurance and fraud prevention through bio-metric identification and a means by which governments can provide access to government services in a convenient, anytime anywhere and relatively risk free manner.
Cards can also be seen as a means of inclusion both financial and social.
“Working with the ministry of works, we have recently made announcements on the new guidelines on right of way administration on federal highways and we are working with the Ministry of Environment to iron out bottlenecks in the deployment of base stations required for wireless data and voice transmission. “Eliminating these two critical bottlenecks will facilitate the accelerated roll out of a broadband infrastructure that includes a connected national backbone, regional rings, metro rings and fibre to the cabinet that should increase our broadband penetration from 6 percent to about 20 percent by 2015,” Johnson said.
On the issue of card manufacture, production and personalisation, the minister said the ministry was working on local content guidelines that would be issued in the last quarter of 2012, which she said, would result in an increase in domestic value added to the ICT industry and of course the creation of low, medium and highly skilled jobs in the ICT industry.