One card to rule them all: Russia to introduce new IDs

Russians will soon be paying their bills and making appointments with a single piece of plastic.

President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the government to come up with a road map for the introduction of multi-purpose ID cards by May 1, 2011.

The idea behind these cards is to store on one chip all the data concerning each citizen. The card is to serve as passport, insurance and driving license at once.

This will considerably ease all document-related procedures, be it the issuing of an international passport or registration of an individual entrepreneur.

The cards will also be part of a new national payment system. This will enable Russians to use them to pay taxes, transportation fares, community bills and even purchase goods. The president ordered the government to develop a system of bonuses (such as lower taxes) for those who will obtain state and municipal services in electronic form.

Medvedev said that new ID cards are expected to usher in a new level of citizen interaction with the state and various bureaucratic structures, as well as the development of “a better digital culture” in Russia.

The president ordered the government to draft detailed specifications for the new cards. It is planned to use foreign chips before Russian engineers come up with a national version.

They will also have to list the requirements for financial organizations that plan to take part in the project.

The cards are to be issued on demand beginning January 1, 2012 and to everyone older than 14 beginning January 1, 2014. The project will cost Russia around $5 billion.

The initiative comes as part of Medvedev’s electronic government program.

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