Russia plans to introduce a universal "identity-payment card" for all of its citizens, Kremlin aide and chief presidential economics advisor Arkady Dvorkovich said on Monday.
According to the proposal, a universal card implanted with an electronic chip will be used not only as an identification card complete with the holder's picture and fingerprint replacing internal passports for Russians, but would also be used to pay for household utilities, public transportation, prescriptions, or any other social or municipal needs. The card is similar to a regular bank card.
"The new modernization project will cost somewhere between 150 and 200 billion rubles ($5.2-$6.9 bln) over the next five years, though Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina will give a more exact figure in her report to the committee later," Dvorkovich said during a press conference at RIA Novosti.
Dvorkovich said that all of the normative documents should be prepared by the end of the first six months of this year and laws on a national payment system are currently in their last stages of being accepted by parliament.
One of the key issues in introducing the universal card is the technical demands, which should be adopted "within about two months" by the committee overseeing the project, he added.
One of the main advantages of a universal card is that bureaucracy will be minimized because all of the information about a user will be centralized and any of the appropriate administrative organs can access the information immediately, Dvorkovich claimed.
This will cut down on the time most Russians spend standing in lines to process documents, some of which go through at least four stages, including receiving the appropriate forms, processing them, payment for services, and receiving a finalized document, according to Dvorkovich.
The universal card could also be used to register for weddings and in the health care system, he said.
MOSCOW, February 28 (RIA Novosti, David Burghardt)