An estimated 400 million Indians cannot prove their identity. As a result, they're shut out of countless opportunities. They cannot access educational programs, open a bank account, apply for welfare benefits or seek higher-level employment. Lack of identification is also problematic for the government, because as much as 40% of the $40 billion it directs yearly toward helping these individuals doesn't reach the intended beneficiaries.
The Indian government, however, has found a solution to this problem: use biometrics to provide everyone with a method of personal identification.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) launched its innovative Aadhaar program to give all residents the ability to prove their identity through a unique identity (UID) number tied to their biometrics.
To do this, the UIDAI photographs individuals, scans their irises and collects their fingerprints. The data is uploaded to a central repository, where an algorithm checks whether each individual's biometric data already exists in the database. If no duplicate record exists, a unique Aadhaar number is sent to the resident by mail.
The system can compare each set of biometric data to existing records in just minutes, and the biometric search and deduplication process can handle up to a million enrollments daily.
Those in the Aadhaar system will now be able to identify themselves by using an eye scanner, which checks the unique patterns in their irises, and providing their ID number. Those with mobile phones can also request a one-time numerical password to be sent by text message, which would be used in conjunction with the user’s ID number. The third service, dubbed e-KYC (“know your customer”), allows users to authorize businesses like banks to receive electronic proof of the users’ identify and home address.
“This is a major step in the direction of enabling Aadhaar holders to avail various services by using the Aadhaar identity platform,” Nandan Nilekeni, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, which oversees Aadhaar, said in a statement.
BTW Nandan, was co-founder and CEO of Infosys and many of the Indian outsourcing firms have contributed to the success of Aadhar