I wrote this article for THINK micro.
One of the major problems with India is the huge amount of paperless persons – people not on the record at all. A new system proposed will use iris scanning and fingerprints to assign a 12 digit personal ID code to each indian person, allowing access to financial tools, government benefits, voting, census and more.
He can use the number, along with a thumbprint, to identify himself anywhere in the country. It will allow him to gain access to welfare benefits, open a bank account or get a cellphone far from his home village, something that is still impossible for many people in India.
This is not the first time biometrics has been used in the subcontinent, but it is the first time it has been used by the government for identification.
The potential for this technology is quite amazing, especially when it comes to collaboration with micro finance and financial inclusion mechanisms. If this unique 12 digit code can be linked to an account, it could be revolutionary. Citing the code, and using fingerprints (or, for larger transactions, an iris scan) would provide the bank or micro finance facility with enough detail to identify a client, verifiably, and synchronise that data with government details. Its application in the slums and rural areas of subcontinental Asia are astounding.