Indian national biometrics scheme 'offers opportunities for investors'

19 April 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

The rollout of a national identity programme using biometric technology offers substantial opportunities to international investors, one firm suggests.

According to Duncan Lawrie Private Bank, the latest moves in the country in this field will reinforce perception of the nation as "one of the most promising and important of the emerging markets".

The company's Director and Head of Research, Edward Bland, explained: "The new system empowers millions of Indians to directly receive subsidies and wages, rather than rely on the shaky distribution infrastructure which is currently in place and is frequently abused by its providers."

According to the financial expert, the database will make it easier for banks to lend money and take deposits from people in India, potentially broadening its capital base and will ensure authorities can successfully tackle the misappropriation of benefits and subsidies.

This month, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) started the process that will see an additional 400 million individuals join the database during the coming two years.

According to a recent report by the UIDAI, the biometric technology needed to ensure high levels of accuracy for the 1.2 billion people in India is in place and tests have shown this to be the case.

In its report on biometrics, the UIDAI stated its systems are capable of handling one million records per day, with accuracy and duplication detection of 99.965 per cent.

"This lays to rest the fear that the use of biometric technology in the Indian context would be unreliable and flawed," the organization stated.

More than 100 million unique Aadhaar numbers had been issued by the end of 2011, providing the Indian Government with one of the world's largest biometric systems and delivering improved access to banking and benefits to people in India.

This is expected to reach 200 million by the end of 2012 and 600 million within the next two years.

Individuals are provided with their own number, which is linked to a photograph, iris scans and fingerprints.

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