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UN pension fund introduces biometric facial recognition for identity verification

UN pension fund introduces biometric facial recognition for identity verification

The United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF) has rolled out a biometric facial recognition pilot in partnership with the International Computing Centre (ICC) to automate the pension process by optimizing identity verification, proof of existence and proof of residence, the organization announced.

The UN Secretary-General’s strategy on innovation encourages the exploration of advanced technologies to deliver an optimized experience.

The proof of concept leverages advanced technologies such as blockchain, biometrics, geolocation and mobile apps. More than 70,000 pensioners in over 190 countries need to be verified under the payment process, so the system needs to confirm people are alive to receive their benefits. For almost 70 years, the organization resorted to manual verification and paper-based documents, which beneficiaries had to sign and send by post.

There are two payment options currently available for retirees and beneficiaries. One is a dollar track system for benefits aligned to the U.S. cost of living, and the other is a local track system which converts the benefit to local currency and cost of living. As the organization had to automate the Certificate of Entitlement process, it looked into integrating advanced technologies.

Digital identity and blockchain deliver enhanced security, enable the organization to easily trace and audit the process, and eliminate the need for manual processing. Biometrics were added for personal identification and “proof of existence,” while blockchain generates traceable, immutable and independently auditable evidence, geo-location confirms “proof of residence,” and mobile apps make it easier for beneficiaries to take part in the pension process.

After proving successful, the project was presented at the annual United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board Meeting in August 2019.

A number of member organizations were invited to take part in the project. UNJSPF is looking into rolling out the system for new retirees.

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