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India to sign MoU to bring Sri Lanka its own digital identity system

India to sign MoU to bring Sri Lanka its own digital identity system

Sri Lanka and India are to sign a memorandum of understanding where India will provide a grant to fund the creation of the Unitary Digital Identity Framework. The announcement is the latest in a stream of digital ID developments for the Indian Ocean nation.

The Sri Lankan cabinet granted approval for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to sign the agreement in his capacity as the country’s Minister of Technology, reports News First, after the president first held talks with India on the project in 2019.

No further details of the grant format have emerged, but India’s The Hindu reports that the approach is apparently modelled on India’s Aadhaar card and comes amid $1.4 billion of economic assistance from India to its neighbor to cope with its dollar exchange rate crunch and to import food and medicines.

The proposed Unitary Digital Identity Framework will be handled as a national priority in Sri Lanka. News First reports that the scheme is expected to introduce a “personal identity verification device based on biometric data, a digital tool that can represent the identities of individuals in cyberspace, and the identification of individual identities that can be accurately verified in digital and physical environments by combining the two devices”.

Previous attempts by the island nation to digitize identities and implement electronic identity cards attached to a centralized database both failed, states The Hindu.

Biometric Update reported on a previous project where the scope for a national biometrics-backed digital identity cared stipulate functionality, with the biometrics attached to the card being used for benefits disbursement, tax payments and voting.

Series of digital identity updates

Sri Lanka announced in late January 2022 that it is developing a digital wallet for ID documents to be released within three years as certain public payments become digitized via the LANKA QR payments system, launched at the same time.

In summer 2021 Sri Lanka announced it was adopting the MOSIP platform for its digital ID system and appointed IriTech for a pilot with its iris scanning devices.

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