Biometric Research Note: Indonesia most advanced adopter of eID credentials

November 28, 2012 - 

Implementing a biometrically-enabled identification card in Indonesia, the country with the fourth largest population, has been a vital step in creating a nationwide identification infrastructure which embraces and enhances a number of applications, including e-government, financial projects and social services.

As BiometricUpdate.com has previously mentioned, Indonesia committed US$600 million to provide a national identity card to all of its 172 million residents. The Asian nation has introduced a new eID credential to replace all existing identity cards. The cards, entitled Kartu Tanda Penduduk Elektronik, or e-KTP for short, will be used for voter registration, passport issuance, tax payments and to verify identity for social assistance.

Using contact less smart card technology, e-KTP obligates every citizen to have his or her fingerprints scanned, verified, and saved in a central database. The project, which had technology supplied and implemented by a wide range of firms including L-1 Identity Solutions, HP, Topaz Systems and Biomorf, is ahead of schedule, with all Indonesian residents having submitted for biometric registration.

The Indonesian Interior Ministry reported in early November that the government had achieved its objective to migrate all 172,015,400 Indonesians with a regular government-issued ID card, or KTP, to the new electronic version.

The effort was reportedly an intensive operation that at its maximal peak involved the use of nearly 20 card manufacturing and chip encoding machines running 24 hours a day, outputting close to 8,000 cards per day. The logistical challenges were comprehensive, and included training approximately 72,000 employees to operate biometric equipment, and requiring them to work in at least 7,000 locations in a country that has 746 languages used by 1,128 distinct ethnic groups, who mainly live scattered throughout 77,088 villages.

With the registration of nearly all of the country’s residents, the government can now proceed with using the card to ensure the integrity of upcoming national elections in 2014. The other main reasons for implementing the new e-KTP credential were to enhance national security and reduce social assistance fraud.

With the new cards, the Indonesian government intends to reduce the risk of terror attacks. In the past, terrorists operating in the country had been found holding falsified KTP documents. But with the new smartcard technology, the government claims that e-KTP credentials are virtually impossible to forge. As a result, they should not be subject to misuse by criminals and terrorists, who have been known to evade capture through the use of fake or multiple KTPs.

The streamlined biometric registration process that allowed the government to issue all the new eID cards before the 2012 year-end deadline not only demonstrated efficiency. The new system also allowed the government to complete instantaneous verification checks, thereby flagging instances of residents who attempted to register multiple times for an e-KTP credential.

The elimination of multiple registrations substantially lowers the risk of multiple cards being used by terrorists to confound the Indonesia’s national security establishment or by fraudsters attempting to abuse the country’s small roster of social welfare benefits.

With the completion of biometric registration for all the country’s citizens, Indonesia has achieved a high level of identification verification for its citizens, employees and even political class.

Previously, the government successfully deployed electronic ID cards for use by the entire civil service. The civil service eID cards were enhanced with fingerprint biometrics and are designed to control the issuance and prevent misuse of benefits granted to Indonesian government employees. The cards are also multi-purpose, acting as a reliable authentication method for other application areas including health insurance, housing subsidies, and pension funds. The civil service eIDs were designed, developed and deployed by BioLink Solutions.

The firm noted that adoption of enhanced civil service cards with biometrics significantly enforces identification procedures and increase ID card authenticity, thus eliminating potential abuses and misapplications.

At the political level, even lawmakers agree with this sentiment. In August, BiometricUpdate.com reported that the House of Representatives in Jakarta, Indonesia spent US $29,295 on the installation of biometric fingerprint scanners to track the attendance of lawmakers.

The purpose of implementing the biometric system at the legislature was to minimize truancy. The absence of lawmakers during hearings had been a major issue for Indonesia’s House of Representatives. Despite not attending, the names of many legislators were still recorded on attendance lists. The use of biometrics aims to correct this issue by placing greater scrutiny on elected officials, just as its use with civil service is aimed to ensure that employment benefits are not abused.

With these multiple initiatives, it is quite safe for Biometric Research Group to assess Indonesia as the world’s most advanced adopter of eID credentials and technologies by way of the depth of deployment throughout multiple sectors of its society and economy.

Biometrics Research Group provides forward-looking and systematic data about the global biometric market, allowing industry stakeholders to calculate political, economic and investment risk.

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About Rawlson King

Rawlson O’Neil King is a contributing editor at BiometricUpdate.com and is an experienced communications professional, management consultant, trade journalist and author who recently published a book about control and electronic networks and who has written numerous articles in trade publications and academic journals about smart home and building technologies. Follow him @rawlsonking2.