Aadhaar biometric services expand to ‘mobile ATMs’ as credentials could be unified

The digital census being undertaken for India’s National Population Registry (NPR), which link residents biometric and biographic details, could potentially be used to unify a range of identity credentials into one card, Home Minister Amit Shah has suggested, according to The Hindu.

Shah was speaking at a ceremony marking the beginning of construction of a new building for the Registrar General of India (RGI), which conducts the census. The 2021 census will be carried out digitally, Shah announced, and he further indicated that Aadhaar and bank account cards, driving licenses and passports could all be brought onto a single platform.

“Why is it so difficult to link and update birth and death registration with census data?” Shah asked.

The government has set aside 120 billion rupees (roughly US$1.7 billion) for the preparation of the NPR and census. The government plans to begin collecting biometric and family relation details of Indian citizens beginning in September of 2020.

Aadhaar will soon be used to access financial services through the postal service in the state of Kerala, where 7,196 postal workers will act as biometric “mobile ATMs” for the withdrawal of up to 10,000 rupees ($141) a day, Mathrubhumi reports.

The postal workers will be given a mobile phone and biometric device, which together act as a “micro ATM,” enabling biometric account access through the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) without a username or password, according to the report. A small fee will be charged for home services, but the same service will also be available at most of the more than 5000 post offices in the state.

The AEPS is an inter-bank service, and the new program is designed to help customers who are not familiar with online transactions or cannot go to bank branches. Biometric access also requires the entry of the account number, the user’s Aadhaar number, and the QR code, through the mobile app on the postal worker’s phone.

The driver’s license system is also expected to be linked with Aadhaar to prevent duplicate licenses and forgery, Union IT and Communication Minister Ravishankar Prasad said, according to The Indian Awaaz.

Prased says that Aadhaar has saved the government nearly 477 billion rupees ($6.7 billion) so far.

Aadhaar holders can now update the details of their Aadhaar account by visiting any official Aadhaar Seva Kendra (local government office), without submitting any documents, the Financial Express reports.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has amended the rules to improve convenience for Aadhaar holders. Additional information is required for introducer-based and head of family-based enrollments. Account holders can update their biometrics, as well as their name, address, mobile number, email address, date of birth, or gender. The UIDAI has also launched an online portal to book appointments to perform Aadhaar updates.

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