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Bangladesh government considers user fee for digital ID verification service

Bangladesh government considers user fee for digital ID verification service

The Bangladesh government may impose a minimal user fee on the country’s digital ID verification service to make the existing system financially self-sustaining.

According to government sources cited by the Dhaka Tribune, Digicon Global Services, a company that provides digital identity verification to government agencies for free while earning income by charging fees to the private sector, proposed a public-private partnership with the government to generate revenue by charging tolls from service users.

Digicon has ties to the government, as it uses the country’s identity management platform Porichoy, which is connected to the Election Commission’s national database. Porichoy, developed and owned by the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) and the Bangladesh National Digital Architecture (BNDA), performs onboarding and identity verification with face biometrics and verification of data like addresses, birth registration, and national ID number. The country’s national ID cards feature fingerprint biometrics.

The current fee arrangement has not covered Digicon’s costs, according to the report, and the government has subsidized its operations.

Bangladesh’s ICT Division is reported to have presented the proposal to the Cabinet Division, which ordered a feasibility report and suggested a verification fee no more than 5 to 6 taka (approximately US$ 0.057 to US$0.069), which would be split by Digicon and the government. The Tribute quotes a government official who says since the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tk150 million (approximately US$1,714,000) was raised from identity verification services from Digicon by the country’s ICT Division alone.

The proposal suggests a commitment to maintaining the government’s role in the country’s biometrics and identification services. Unlike some countries that only write and enforce regulations and leave the private sector to its own devices, Bangladesh has opted for a system closer to India’s Aadhaar.

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