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Pakistan adopts biometric tech for insurance purchase, inclusive banking

Pakistan’s interest in advanced biometric technology has led to a number of investments in the country, ranging from biometric verification of bank account owners, to mobile biometric terminals at the border and securing property transactions. The country’s top insurance company has recently embraced biometrics, now offering customers biometric fingerprint registration to create and validate a life insurance contract, while the government has just finalized preparations for its biometrics-enabled financial inclusive social program.

Pakistan’s major insurance company Efu Life has introduced a biometrically-enabled instant savings-cum-protection policy acquisition system for its customers to enjoy a digital, paperless experience, the company announced.

Named Bliss, the digital solution will ensure the company’s services are more efficient and customer-focused. It lets users create and validate a life insurance contract by using biometric fingerprints, which are matched through the biometric records held by the government of Pakistan’s National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA). Physical or underwriting documents are not necessary, as neither are signatures on the application or document.

“As a customer-centric insurer, we take our customer’s needs as the ultimate guide to decision making. As more and more of our customers demand real-time engagement, we are enthusiastically embracing the shift from the old paper-oriented sales process to a new, truly cohesive, digital ecosystem that eliminates the need for any manual intervention,” said Zain Ibrahim, Chief Operations Officer at Efu Life.

Ibrahim further explains that the product-buying process only takes 10 minutes, and the customer will instantly get the digital policy documentation without having to submit any paperwork.

In the meantime, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has introduced Ehsaas Kafaalat, a social program under which seven million women from a poor income background will each receive a Rs 2,000 (US$28) stipend through a biometric cash machine, writes TNS.

During the official launch ceremony, some financially-challenged women taking part in the event received Kafaalat cards. The women in the program will receive a bank account and a smart phone to ease their way to a digital experience.

“The smart phones would help educate the children of the poor women from their childhood. This will bring about a new revolution,” the prime minister said.

The government plans to launch more social programs under the Ehsaas name, the next being planned for the following two weeks.

The government has assigned a Rs 200 billion ($2.8 billion) budget for the anti-poverty program.

Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, introduced data analytics to make sure the system is not taken advantage of. The Prime Minister said the beneficiaries of the social program will be able to take part in other initiatives such as student scholarships, loans for startups or skill training for young people.

In contract to the Benazir Income Support Program which was using a 10-year old database, a complicated multiple payment system and paper-based interaction, Kafaalat leverages a biometric system with point of sale agents to provide monthly assistance and biometric ATMs, among others. A digital door-to-door survey was conducted to identify participants in the program. According to Dr. Nishtar, people will no longer have to wait 10 years to get on the list, they can at any time use the NADRA Desk Registration Centers.

One million families already enrolled will receive funding starting in February and March. More districts will be added to the program by the end of the year.

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