Oakland launches municipal ID-debit card

February 1, 2013 5:39:27 PM PST
The City of Oakland is launching the nation's first-ever municipal identification card that will double as a full-fledged debit card. The program is designed to help people who need services but can't get them because they don't have any official identification.

"Oh yeah, they charge for everything," Oakland resident Eric Bates said.

Bates just left a check cashing store on International Boulevard in Oakland. He's heard that the city along with a financial institution is offering a city ID that will also have a debit card function. It's the first in the country.

"It's fair," Bates said. "I mean, for people let's say in the ghetto that's not making too much, they can control they own money."

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, officials from SF Global (the company providing the cards and debit service), and community organizers officially opened the new enterprise for business with a ribbon cutting Friday. SF Global officials showed us the website that will be up Monday for anyone who wants to register for the dual use card.

The only requirement is the ability to show some form of valid ID, be it a passport or ID card from a foreign consulate or social security card.

"This is the first city in the United States using this card," said Anthony Manzillo with SF Global.

Former Oakland City Councilman Wilson Riles Jr. says he's has been fighting for this type of card for years, "The most important function for a lot of African Americans in the community is that they can't open a bank account and they have to use check cashing," Riles said.

Quan adds, "It was a long time, but I hope it's worth it. It is, I think, really a symbol of the fact that the City of Oakland is willing to go through a lot of hurdles and a lot of work to make sure that this works. And we think, actually we know, that once our card is launched that many cities are looking at this process. So we are very proud of this."

Xochitl Quetzal only has an ID card from the Mexican Consulate. He says the card would be a good fit for him, "It would give me the ability to not have to worry about a company or a business not trusting my form of identification," Quetzal said.

SF Global claims the card will be as secure as any debit card. Any unauthorized use would be texted to the cardholder. They have not decided if users will need a pin number for that security.

Pre-registration will begin at two locations February 19th. One will be in the Fruitvale District the other at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

The city expects to issue 6,000 cards this year. They will cost $15 with a discount for seniors and minors. The cards will start shipping out March 15.

Critics say the card legitimizes the presence of illegal immigrants and poses a security risk to its users.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story)

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