Idemia biometrics to bolster India’s growing offline payments market
India is now the world’s most populous nation, but according to executives at Idemia, mobile phone penetration stands at 46 percent. That means more than half the population does not have access to an offline payment system.
That’s a market opportunity that biometric ID software and hardware vendor Idemia, phone maker HMD Global and Airtel Payments Bank could not pass up.
The trio has said they will work together to make offline payments common in India, according to a report by CNBC TV-18, an Indian affiliate of the U.S. business broadcast news service. Offline central bank digital currency (CBDC) transactions using the digital rupee, or eINR, occur today, but only if someone has the right hardware, software and service.
Idemia will provide the offline biometric layer enabling offline transactions that protect consumers’ identity.
The expansion’s hardware component, at least in the beginning, will be feature phones, not full-screen analogs like iPhones and Android phones. An intended completion date for the various pieces to this puzzle is not provided.
But when it is ready, according to an article by The Economic Times in India, consumers “will be able to pay using an ingenious and cost-effective feature phone extending the availability of offline payment functionalities to a wider population.”
Airtel unlocks face authentication for new accounts
Mint reports that Airtel has also said it plans to enable digital remote account enrollments that use face authentication by the end of the year, reportedly from anywhere in the nation. An Airtel mobile app, Thanks, will authenticate a photo of an individual against a biometric image captured for Aadhaar, India’s digital ID.
Anubrata Biswas, CEO of Airtel, told Mint that “this technology will use India’s digital public infrastructure, reducing dramatically the cost to serve and increasing access, thus furthering Digital India.”