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Philippines plans initial enrollments after $563 million national biometric ID scheme signed into law

Philippines plans initial enrollments after $563 million national biometric ID scheme signed into law

The Philippines plans to register the biometrics of one million beneficiaries of state aid programs in the fourth quarter of 2018, as they first step toward enrolling all 106 million citizens in the national ID program by 2022, the Deccan Chronicle reports.

The program is expected to cost 30 billion pisos (US$563 million), and provide identity cards needed to access government services, bank accounts, and register employment. It will register iris scans, fingerprints, and facial images.

Roughly 7.4 million people in the Philippines have no identity record at all, according to government estimates. When completed, it is hoped that the national program will ease financial inclusion in the country, where financial institutions currently require multiple government issued IDs and other documents, and at least ten million people are estimated to have no bank account due to lack of documentation, making them easy prey for loan sharks. With 70 percent of the population owning a mobile phone, the national ID also represents an opportunity for fintech companies to bring people into the financial system.

Lisa Bersales, Philippine National Statistician and Civil Registrar General, says the government is considering about 40 proposals from companies seeking roles in collecting, managing, and authenticating identity information, and prefers a competitive auction. The contract is expected to be awarded in November. Bersales also says that the concerns of the program’s critics, including some lawmakers, are unfounded, as existing privacy laws protect all data collected. President Rodrigo Duterte signed the bill into law in August.

The government plans to follow the enrollment of aid beneficiaries with undocumented individuals and ethnic minorities, the Chronicle reports.

If successful, the program could save close to $2 billion per year over the five years of its implementation, Bersales has previously estimated.

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