The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is in charge of making quality national identity card system available in Nigeria. Despite Nigeria’s growth in the tech and financial sector, it’s quite disappointing that it is yet to find a permanent solution to its identity management scheme.
The dispute between Chams and MasterCard has however answered the questions on the mind of many Nigerian citizens regarding the failed national identity scheme. Let me walk you through it.
A letter recently addressed to Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo by Chams PLC revealed the controversies surrounding Chams PLC and MasterCard. The letter revealed that Chams who is one of the leading developers of the identity scheme accused MasterCard of breach of contract that made them lose $100 million.
Cham explained in the letter that during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime, they were contracted in 2007 to develop Nigeria’s identity management system. NIMC made it known to Cham that they were not looking to develop ordinary national identity cards but an all-inclusive solution that has payment features. Chams who didn’t have the capacity to cover the requirement of the NIMC contracted MasterCard as a technical partner and they signed a non-disclosure and non-compete clauses partnership in 2012.
After they signed the partnership, Chams exposed its entire plan to MasterCard in a confidential information format. MasterCard, however, broke the agreement by signing a direct deal with the NIMC after Chams raised N11 billion from the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The new deal by MasterCard entailed that they do not need input by Chams to develop the payment technology that the card needs.
This move put Chams who has secured payments licenses from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at loss. After MasterCard’s betrayal— other technical partners of Chams followed suit by signing a direct deal with NIMC. By 2014, NIMC announced the launch of MasterCard Identity cards. This last announcement disorganized Cham’s finances and almost caused its collapse. As its role as a company was drastically reduced.
A statement from Cham’s founder, Demola Aladekomo in April 2019 alleged that the NIMC stole its technical partners, design, intellectual property, and staff. He said after stealing from him, they started implementing it themselves.
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