NIMC blames service partner for downtime, telco, banking services affected

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This poses a challenge to people who are yet to register for their NIN and thus cannot link the number to their sim cards…
NIMC Staff Commence Indefinite Strike Action as NIN Registration Halts for Millions of Nigerians

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has attributed the downtime experienced in its portal to maintenance by one of the service providers of its infrastructure.

Agencies such as the Nigerian Immigration Service, telcos and banks are affected by this downtime as it makes it impossible to verify the National Identity Number of their customers before attending to them, in line with the Federal Government’s directive.

As a result, a huge number of mobile telecommunications subscribers across the country who have been seeking to retrieve their lost Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards or acquire new lines have been unable to do so 

NIMC spokesperson Kayode Adegoke, while speaking on the situation said the downtime, which has gone on for almost a week was due to maintenance and that service would be restored once the maintenance is completed.

“The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) wishes to inform the general public that its NIN verification Service (NVS) is temporarily unavailable due to the maintenance service being carried out by one of the Commission’s network service providers, The NIMC wants to assure the public that verification and authentication services would be restored once the maintenance is concluded. The Commission apologises for any inconvenience this might cause our esteemed customers, as all hands are on deck to ensure speedy restoration”, he said

However, the spokesman added that there was an alternative to verifying customers and so affected agencies could still conduct business.

“Even though the NIN verification service (NVS) might be down due to maintenance by one of our service providers of its infrastructure, the alternative platform – TOKENISATION is up and running”

NIMC spokesperson Kayode Adegoke

What is Tokenisation?

The Federal government introduced digital tokens as a replacement for the NIN slip in a bid to ensure the privacy of users’ personal information and to reduce incidences of illegal retrieval, usage, transfer, and storage of NIN.

Digitally generated NIN
Digitally generated NIN

NIN tokenization helps to protect an individual’s data privacy via the use of an encrypted, coded representation (“disguised”) version of the NIN rather than actual NIN itself in day-to-day transactions. User IDs, QR codes and even verification log details on the MWS Mobile ID app are all types of NIN tokenization in that they all hide the NIN of the user.

According to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, virtual NIN tokens are merchant-specific. This means that a token generated can only be used or verified by one company. The virtual token expires after 72 hours.

To generate a Virtual NIN via USSD, dial *346*3*NIN*AgentCode# after which an SMS message will be sent back to the user containing the customised Virtual NIN. It can also be generated via the MWS Mobile ID app.

Challenges with Tokenisation

MWS app interface

The Tokenisation alternative which was fully implemented at the beginning of this year has benefits, the biggest of which is the data privacy it assures users. However, the act of generating a digital NIN requires a user to actually have the National Identification Number (NIN).

Some of the pre-requisite of tokenization, one needs a NIN issued by NIMC, and a mobile number registered in Nigeria and linked to your NIN

Technical Consultant of NIMC, Tunji Durodola

This poses a challenge to people who are yet to register for their NIN and thus cannot link the number to their sim cards. It is also a revenue loss for telcos as they cannot sell new sims while subscribers cannot retrieve lost or stolen lines.

As of July 2021, only 60m Nigerians have registered for the NIN, as opposed to the 192m sim holders in Nigeria, This proves that the alternative method of conducting business without NINs only serves people with NIN. It, therefore, appears that all NIN-related activities cannot be effectively carried out until the NIMC portal is back up.

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