Claim: A viral post on Facebook states that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will introduce a unified ATM card and suspend all banks’ ATM cards currently used by customers.
Verdict: TRUE. The Central Bank of Nigeria launched a domestic card scheme to kickstart January 2023. The scheme is aimed at unifying payments in Nigeria and promoting financial inclusion. However, the deployment of cards under this scheme has not started.
As the global financial space moves to deepen financial inclusiveness and promote cashless transactions, apex banks are further moving with the tide by implementing innovative solutions for seamless transactions.
Recently, a viral post shared by Oluwatofunmi Wisdom on a popular Facebook group with over 400,000 Facebook users stated that Nigeria’s apex bank would, on January 16, 2023, introduce a unified ATM card and suspend all other cards.
Reacting to this post, Ohegam Iyoba Fruitfulness asked questions on how this will affect National Identity Cards and wondered how this move will affect his transactions.
Other Facebook users in the comment thread shared the same scepticism with many questions begging for answers.
The significance of this claim and the conflicting comments that have followed encouraged the need to verify this assertion and set the records straight to enlighten Nigerians.
A quick google check revealed in a report that the Central Bank of Nigeria, in collaboration with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, launched the National Domestic Card Scheme.
The scheme is expected to unify payments in Nigeria and bring more unbanked Nigerians in the informal sector into the financial system. The card is also expected to rival heavyweights such as Mastercard and Visa.
Nwanisobi Osita, Director of Corporate Communications at the CBN, in a statement, said, “Domesticating our card scheme also enhances data sovereignty, enabling the development of locally relevant products and services and reduces demands on foreign exchange.”
This announcement was also reported by Premium Times, Vanguard, in October 2022 and recently by Punch and the Sun News online.
In a phone interview, Emmanuel Idenyi Shaibu, a banking sector analyst, confirmed that the scheme kick-started on January 16th. However, he stated that commencement and disbursement would kickstart after the Central Bank of Nigeria agreed with the bankers’ committee. According to him, the new cards will not phase out the old cards.
He further disclosed that the card would be independent of Visa and Mastercard while noting that the only challenge would be issues around the unified card being compromised. Emmanuel Idenyi urged Nigerians to use these unified cards when they become accessible on accounts meant for just daily transactions.
Based on official statements from the Central Bank of Nigeria and the NIBSS, the new debit card scheme starts on January 16, 2023. Still, there are no confirmations about when customers will use the new cards and the current cards will cease functioning.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Summitpost News to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.