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Biometric verification failing for some government crisis grant recipients in India and Pakistan



Postal workers in the Hisar region of India’s Haryana State have delivered 19.4 million Rupees (roughly US$260,000) directly to recipients with biometric authentication through the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) during the COVID-19 lockdown, Hindustan Times reports, bringing new importance to an occupation hard-hit by the adoption of email.

The service, which has delivered more than 7,000 cash payments in the region, is also temporarily free, after the nominal service charge was waved.

In Ludhiana district, however, in Punjab State, beneficiaries are refusing to provide thumbprints out of fear that they will catch the novel coronavirus from the scanner, according to a separate report in the Hindustan Times.

A postman told the publication that many pensioners say they would rather use bank ATMs, though he uses a mask and sanitizer provided by the postal department.

Statistics cited by Hindustan Times indicate that 27,718 total transactions were attempted in the district from March 23 to April 24, but biometric matches were unsuccessful in 9,408 cases. More than 8,000 more had invalid account numbers.

AEPS is not the only government payment system facing biometric authentication challenges.

Pakistan reopens NADRA offices

Thousands of people are reported to have been unable to verify their fingerprints with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) system to access the Ehsas Emergency Cash Programme run by the government of Pakistan, The Express Tribune writes.

A protest was held by dozens of people at Lahore’s NADRA Mega Centre last week, demanding the office be opened to address the failed verifications.

An official working at a disbursement center has reportedly observed elderly applicants, laborers and women who thumbprints could not be captured by the biometric devices at the center, in at least some cases due to the effects of manual labor on the prints.

A NADRA official told the publication that the agency is aware that many applicants to the program are facing verification challenges, and that it is ready to open its offices when the federal government grants approval to do so. UrduPoint reports that NADRA offices have now begun opening, with masks, temperature checks, and hand sanitization necessary for all those visiting the offices. The authorities request people to call for more information before visiting the offices. Citizens applying for new registration and biometric verification will be prioritized.

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