MOSCOW, December 28 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian authorities will start issuing universal identity and payment cards in 2013 to streamline the payment of pensions and taxes and be used like bank cards in stores.
The universal card, implanted with an electronic chip, will serve as an identification card complete with the holder’s picture and digital signature and be used to pay for household utilities, public transportation, prescriptions, or any other social or municipal needs. The cards resemble regular bank cards.
The cards will be issued on request beginning January 2013 and will be issued to all Russian citizens in 2014, except for those who submit a written refusal.
The card will be free of charge for all Russian citizens.
As of December 24, only 57 of 83 Russian regions were more than 50 percent ready to issue the cards. None of the regions were 100 percent ready.
In three-five years the card will be transformed into new-generation ID cards, replacing internal passports for Russians.
The Russian economics ministry earlier estimated the costs of the five-year program to be between 135 and 165 billion rubles ($4.4-$5.4 billion).