South Africa seeks secure biometric solution for taxpayer management
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has published a tender seeking a contractor for the supply of a multi-modal biometric system for the identification and authentication of taxpayers in the country.
According to the tender notice, the biometric system is intended to combat fraud and other illicit practices impacting the revenue collection service, as it looks forward to meeting some of the strategic objectives of its 2024 vision, namely by making it easier for tax payers and traders to comply with their obligations, and modernizing its systems to provide digital and streamlined online services.
“Safeguarding and protecting taxpayer information, as required by law, is of critical importance to SARS. The growing risks related to cyber-crime is a concern. To this end, SARS must make all efforts to ensure that only authorised persons can access taxpayer information,” SARS said in the tender notice, justifying why it now “requires a solution to reliably and securely identify, verify and authenticate taxpayers and SARS officials to control authorised access management to its internal facing and external facing systems.”
“It is anticipated that a biometric authentication such as fingerprint verification, facial, iris and voice recognition can meet these requirements. This will assist SARS combat fraud and other illicit activities whilst providing an improved and secure user experience to taxpayers,” SARS added. The agency suggests that the biometric system can be used alongside other authentication options such as PINs and passwords in order to ensure additional control and monitoring and the ability to detect and combat potentially fraudulent behaviors.
The solution is expected to be integrated with SARS’ current technology solutions to enable both taxpayer and SARS official identity verification and authentication, both for on-premise (SARS offices, branches and border posts) and remote channels (digital channels).
“SARS is looking for a solution option that will support multi-modal biometric identity verification and authentication of taxpayers and officials performing transactions. While the organisation envisages prioritizing facial recognition and voice recognition for the first phase of implementation, the solution should be capable of including other biometric modes thereafter,” the tender document specifies.
The facial recognition component of the solution, SARS said, should be able to complete at least 30,000 face verifications per hour.
Interested solution providers have until December 14 to submit their proposals.
A recently proposed biometrics policy which suggests a centralized database in South Africa was sharply criticized by rights activists.
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