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Aadhaar gives access to pre-paid Visa accounts in India


On Wednesday, the Indian government announced the launch of Saral Money, a unique financial services and electronic payments program, using Aadhaar, the country’s biometric national identity system.

Visa has collaborated on this project with five Indian banks: SBI, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and Axis Bank, the Hindustanitimes reports. 

This system works by issuing those with Aadhaar numbers a new Visa Instant Account and a pre-paid card, immediately. Prior to this, Visa’s tough proof-of-identification registration policies have automatically excluded many people India, but by using widely-issued Aadhaar numbers as valid identification, the spread is much greater.

The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) is currently working to identify India’s 1.2 billion residents using biometrics. Under the program, which started in 2012, each resident will have their fingerprints and iris scanned and the information gathered will be embedded in a unique 12-digit identification card, called Aadhaar.

According to a Finextra report, “by linking Visa accounts to the national identity system, customer identities can be verified via biometric recognition data stored centrally, for instance by running fingerprint scans at newly designed micro-ATM’s when they wish to pay or withdraw cash.”

“This is a perfect example of how the public and private sector have come together … to develop India’s payment ecosystem,” Uttam Nayak, Visa’s group country manager for India and South Asia said.

Saral Money will first be rolled out in New Delhi and the National Capital Region, and expansion for the rest of the country is set to be completed by the end of 2013.

There are currently 210 million Aadhaar number holders and the UIDAI has plans to increase that count to 600 million by 2015.

As reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, the Supreme Court of India issued a notice to the governmnet, challenging the legal basis for the foundation of the UIDAI, and has also asked the government to respond to why the issuance of Aadhaar numbers should not be put on hold.

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