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NEC seeks $1B in revenue in India by 2025 and biometrics could play a big role


A decade after Japanese IT and electronics giant NEC Corp. helped launch India’s nationwide biometric-identification program, company executives have announced a new push into the large and developing economy.

Though the effort likely will involve many industries and technologies, NEC executives are expected to build on biometrics work that the firm completed for Aadhaar, India’s 10-year-old biometric-backed identification system created to cover all residents in the 1.4 billion-person country.

NEC’s CEO Takashi Niino this month told India’s Economic Times newspaper that the company is leaving too much potential profit on the table on the subcontinent. Niino wants to increase NEC’s revenue from India operations from $400 million to $1 billion by 2025.

Working with the national governments of India and Japan, NEC executives say, the local workforce will grow from 6,000 today to 20,000 over the next five years as part of the push.

Few specifics have been offered, including which industries NEC plans to expand into in India and which job categories will be boosted. Executives have spoken generally about making India a hub for offshore support and product development.

Niino said he is looking for contracts to upgrade digital capabilities for India’s financial-services industry, but left expansion targets open-ended. The same is true for facilities, saying there was new revenue to be had working on the information technology and electronics used in hotels, airports, shopping centers and office buildings.

It is hard to imagine that NEC will gloss over potentially large and noteworthy biometrics projects there, however.

As of last fall, 95 percent of India residents (though not necessarily 95 percent of all citizens) aged five and older, held Aadhaar identification. What’s more, 92 percent of ID holders said they were satisfied with Aadhaar, which translates as “foundation.”

Eight in 10 people reported that biometrics has improved programs including the distribution of rations, cooking-gas subsidies and pensions, and access to jobs programs.

Few societies are this invested in biometric IDs or as happy with the result.

Indeed, NEC is pushing the boundaries for who can be identified through biometrics. Researchers have completed trials in which children aged two to 24 hours old were digitally fingerprinted. study, conducted in Kenya, reportedly had an error rate of 0.3 percent.

The company might have a bit of a running start, too.

As recently as 2018, NEC began positioning itself as a go-to partner when it comes to all things biometric. Executives have gathered their various authentication systems under the marketing banner Bio-Idiom. The biometric recognition portfolio includes face, iris, fingerprint, palm print, finger vein, voice and ear acoustics.

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