Buhari regime introduces virtual NIN tokens

The federal government has introduced a suite of digital tokens to replace the ageing NIN slip and polycarbonate card.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, disclosed this at a stakeholders’ workshop on the National Identification Number (NIN) Tokenization Solution organised by National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in Abuja.

Mr Pantami said the government adopted the solution to ensure privacy of personal identifiable information of individuals during verification transactions and to reduce incidences of illegal retrieval, usage, transfer, and storage of NIN.

The minister who was represented by the Director-General of NIMC, Aliyu Abubakar, said the full implementation begins on January 1.

He said the tokenisation solution was customised to protect personal identifiable information and to protect the sanctity as well as sensitivity of the NIN issued by NIMC to registered individuals.

“One of the benefits of the virtual NIN is to ensure no third party may carry out any verification, hiding behind a proxy (and without the knowledge of the NIMC, being the Custodian of Identity).

“And also generated Token or Virtual NIN is unintelligent, completely random with no correlation to the NIN and cannot be reverse engineered, even by a Quantum Computer.

“The NIN holder is the only exclusive issuer of NIN and cannot be delegated,” Mr Pantami explained. 

He said anonymisation was also catered for with the attachment of the UserID of the verifier to every verification request, adding that no NIN, no verification.

Mr Pantami said NIN tokens are MDA or merchant specific and expire after a set period of time, saying that a token generated for company A cannot be utilised by company B. 

He said that the aim of the programme was to  rub minds with stakeholders to ensure understanding of the product and buy-in by all.

“We must continue to reinforce the need for every Nigerian to have a digital identity, irrespective of social class or economic status, improve access to all and ensure continuous protection of privacy and data of our citizens and other enrollees.

“We must sustain the momentum by creating continuous awareness programs and sensitising the public.

Also speaking, the Technical Consultant of NIMC, Tunji Durodola, said the Digital Token was designed to replace the 11-digit NIN for everyday usage.

He said NIN had been shared and stored by various entities mostly without the knowledge or consent of the ID holder or the custodian of identity in Nigeria, NIMC.

Mr Durodola said the improved NIN slip had a smaller firm factor and is available to all who have been issued an active NIN, saying they may be purchased without having to visit NIMC office.

“Some of the prerequisite of tokenisation, one needs a NIN issued by NIMC, mobile number registered in Nigeria and linked to your NIN,” he said.

The NIMC Director legal, regulatory and compliance compliance services, Hajiya Hadiza Dagabana said there was need for sensitisation of the public.

She said that the tokenisation would be properly disseminated in various local dialects for better understanding.

The tokenisation consists of 16 Alpha-numberic characters. starting and ending with two letters of the Alphabets.

It is issued by an ID Holder, either via the NIMC MWS Mobile ID apps or via USSD on a feature phone and only by the NIMC, while a mobile number linked to a NIN is required to participate.


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