UN panel praises financial inclusion gains from India’s biometric digital ID system

A United Nations high-level panel on digital cooperation has lauded India’s financial inclusion efforts, including its Aadhaar national biometric system and the ‘India Stack’ of APIs that connect stakeholders to the digital infrastructure, in a new report, according to The Business Standard article.

“The Age of Digital Interdependence” report says that India has added 300 million bank accounts in the past three years, in large part due to new business models built on the India Stack. The India Stack is based on standards for online payments and digital identity managed by India’s government, and provides an example of how a unified, multi-layer software platform can provide the building blocks for financial inclusion and improved service delivery, according to the report.

The panel also stresses the need for digital cooperation efforts to be tailor-made for individual nations and communities.

The report also notes the Modular Open Source Identity Platform (MOSIP), developed by Indian identity ecosystem stakeholders and international partners based on the experience gained from the implementation of Aadhaar and other systems, as an example of a great technology available to support further digital ID efforts.

Cabinet approves bill for voluntary private entity Aadhaar use

India’s Union Cabinet has approved an amended bill that would establish in law the previous ordinance allowing conditional use of Aadhaar by private companies for KYC checks, a separate Business Standard reports.

Fresh off a landslide victory in last month’s elections, which surely secure the future of the Aadhaar project for the foreseeable future, the Cabinet approved the ordinance to allow banks and telecoms to perform voluntary KYC checks using a customer’s Aadhaar number for offline verification or biometric authentication. It also sets out stiffer penalties for violations of privacy and security rules, and establishes the Unique Identification Authority of India Fund.

“The decision would enable UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve the public interest and restrain the misuse of Aadhar,” according to a government press note. “Subsequent to this amendment, no individual shall be compelled to provide proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo authentication for the purpose of establishing his identity unless it is so provided by a law made by Parliament.”

“The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019” will be introduced in the next session of India’s parliament.

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