Nigeria will work with MasterCard Inc. to deploy a new national identity card with a payment option to help broaden access to financial services in Africa's largest economy, President Goodluck Jonathan said.

"Following successful local and international tests, the e-card system has now taken off," Jonathan said Aug. 28 at a ceremony in the capital, Abuja.

Only about 30 percent of the about 170 million population of Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer, have bank accounts, according to the Central Bank. The National Identity Smart Card, or NeID, will operate a prepaid payment system provided by MasterCard and will serve as a "platform with which we can achieve financial inclusion for the unbanked population," Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told reporters.

"For the first time, the majority of Nigerians will begin to build their financial history," MasterCard Division President for sub-Saharan Africa Daniel Monehin said in an interview. "This project gives unique identification and access to financial services. It's a game changer."

While 13 million cards will be issued during this first enrollment phase, at least 100 million Nigerians who are 16 years and older are expected to be enrolled subsequently.

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