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UNHCR and Zain Wallet use IrisGuard biometrics for refugee aid disbursement


Iris biometric technology from IrisGuard is being used to provide identity verification for refugees in Iraq under a partnership between mobile wallet Zain Cash and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).

Zain Cash is an Iraq-based mobile wallet, and subsidiary of regional telecom Zain Group, and will provide money transfer, electronic bill payment, and funds disbursement in Iraq with the new EyePay Cash platform, developed in partnership with IrisGuard. Iris recognition will improve identification accuracy, efficiency, and speed, while supporting a massive reduction in fraud, and ensuring aid reaches the person it is intended for, according to the announcement. The UNHCR says it guards registration data with a high level of security and encryption.

There are more than 120,000 vulnerable families in Iraq, the UNHCR says, and roughly 30,000 refugees in the country receive cash support through the UNHCR. The agency disbursed more than $60 million through partners in 2018.

“UNHCR always looks for new and improved technologies that can help enhance protection services to refugees, including cash assistance,” comments UNHCR Iraq Representative Ayman Gharaibeh. “We have been utilizing iris scan technology to facilitate assistance in the MENA region – in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt – and it has proven to be a most effective and efficient channel. Iris scan reinforces the dignity of the beneficiaries ensuring their identity through their iris and thus is fraud free. UNHCR is glad that Zain Cash is taking the lead in rolling out the use of iris scan technology in Iraq in cooperation with IrisGuard.”

The disbursement process is significantly streamlined with iris technology, decreasing the previous 15-day wait for competing the registration and cash-out process. IrisGuard says its EyePay Phone, which was launched last year, makes iris biometric capture and onboarding fast and simple, and can authenticate identity on a global scale within 3 seconds.

“We are proud to be leading the way in providing financial inclusion for vulnerable populations in the blink of an eye,” says IrisGuard CEO Imad Malhas. “We are delighted to be partnered with Zain Cash and the UNHCR providing a reliable, 100 percent accurate solution which removes risks, increases beneficiary privacy, improves speed and ultimately ensures that those who need it receive aid faster and in a more secure way.”

Iraq also recently extended the registration period for IDPs to sign up for biometric voter cards as it works towards stability following the violence of the Islamic State conflict.

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