Digital Identity Will Foster Economic Growth, Says Interswitch Boss

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By Emma Okonji

Nigeria can unlock its full economic potentials if majority of its citizens have digital identity as proposed by the National Identity programme.

The founder and Group Managing Director, Interswitch Group, Mr. Mitchell Elegbe, made the assertion during a recent webinar organised by TechCabal in partnership with VerifyMe, with the theme: ‘Enabling Nigeria’s economic and social growth with digital identity’.

Elegbe stated that the digital identity database would help Nigerian businesses fasten their growth trajectory where everyone involved across the transacting spectrum could 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 would help businesses and their customers complete business transactions faster.

Elegbe also noted that having a single database would aid easy identification of citizens, which he said, remained vital for economic 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 the 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.

Co-Founder and CEO, VerifyMe Nigeria, Esigie Aguele, corroborated Elegbe’s position, adding that it is imperative for stakeholders in the identity space to provide a central and comprehensive digital identity database, which he said, would enhance security, revenue collection, taxes and jobs creation.