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Digital Identity, Security & Online Fraud

Visa, banks tap India's biometric ID system for new account

Friday 14 December 2012 | 08:26 AM CET

Visa has teamed up with a group of five Indian banks to tap into the government\'s Adhaar national identity system, which uses fingerprint and iris biometric information to verify users and authorise payments.

Following the alliance, tens of millions of Indians will gain access to financial services and electronic payments. The new account, called "Saral Money" uses biometric information, such as fingerprints, to verify and authorize payments. Both the account and the associated biometric data are hosted by the new national identity system, which is run by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

The initiative brings together Visa, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and the State Bank of India, which are aimed at addressing the problem of how to authenticate millions of Indian consumers without existing bank accounts or adequate forms of ID.

Once a person receives an Aadhaar, he or she is automatically eligible for Saral Money and only has to provide their registration letter to a bank to be issued with a branded Visa account, complete with prepaid card. Once their account is opened, they can use Saral Money to make purchases, send money, or receive government payments electronically.

Prior to this, potential customers would have had to provide numerous documents to verify their identity, which automatically excluded hundreds of millions of people.

There are currently 210 million Aadhaar cardholders, with the government planning to expand this to 600 million by 2015. The Saral Money account will first be rolled out in New Delhi and the National Capital Region, with expansion to the rest of the country targeted for completion by the end of 2013.


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