The Aadhaar program is one of the technology success stories of India, and is an initiative unparalleled in scope anywhere else in the world. India is leading the way in the implementation of a national identification program linked to biometric data. As of March 2017, 113 crore residents in India have an Aadhaar card, which is roughly 88.6 percent of the projected population.

Delhi, Haryana and Telangana have seen the most enthusiastic adoption of Aadhaar, with the number of people with Aadhaar exceeding the projected populations of the state. The adoption of Aadhaar is markedly lagging in the north eastern states, with less than 10 percent of the projected populations in Assam and Nagaland having Aadhaar cards.

The card is meant to streamline bureaucratic processes, for better governance, delivering a range of services to the citizens as well as distribution of benefits and subsidies. Rs 671 crore of subsidies was directly transferred to 10 lakh farmers in Karnataka, in one smooth operation, proving the potential of Aadhaar. The central and state exchequers have saved Rs 36 crore in two years because of the deployment of Aadhaar.

Paul Romer, the chief economist at the World Bank, told Bloomberg that a worldwide standardised system on the lines of Aadhaar will benefit everyone on the planet. “The system in India is the most sophisticated I have seen. It’s the basis for all kinds of connections that involve things like financial transactions. It could be good for the world if this became widely adopted,” Romer said.

While many countries have registries of the population, smart passports with chips that store personal documents and other information, and a thriving biometrics market, few have implemented a program as ambitious and featured as Aadhaar. Comparable initiatives are underway in Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia and Malaysia.



Brazil has had a national identity card program since the 1980s. In its current form, there are several points of similarities between Brazil and India when it comes to the implementation of a nationwide identification program with biometric features.

Both countries are in the process of implementing the latest technologies to “leapfrog” beyond the developed nations. The cards are a necessity in practice, even though not officially mandatory according to the law. The Brazilian version of UIDAI is called The Brazilian Association of Digital Identification Technology Companies (Abrid).

Abrid brings together digital identification, smartcards, and biometric identification services to the citizens of Brazil. Brazil is on the forefront of implementing biometric authentication for banking transactions, an initiative similar to the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System in India, which is seeing a steady growth in usage. Users can withdraw money from ATMs by using a fingerprint scanner, even without a plastic card. Similar to India, fingerprints of all the ten fingers are collected at the time of enrollment.

A similar application in India for remote and rural areas is the Aadhaar pay app for merchants, which allows users to authenticate electronic transactions using only their fingerprints, without the need for a smartphone or a card. Retail chains in Brazil allow consumers to make purchases with a biometric fingerprint scanner, authenticated in tandem with a smartphone.

Payment Authentication through biometric scanning for the Aadhaar Payment app. Image: Narendra Bhooshan Twitter: @nbhooshan
Payment Authentication through biometric scanning for the Aadhaar Payment app. Image: Narendra Bhooshan
Twitter: @nbhooshan

In Brazil, the identity cards are used to streamline bureaucratic processes, where a single card acts as a stand in for numerous other identification cards. Unlike India though, the Brazilian identity card guarantees citizenship, something that Aadhaar does not claim to do. Just the ID number is sufficient to glide through several official processes that require identification, similar to the implementation in India.

Publish date: April 5, 2017 1:57 pm| Modified date: April 5, 2017 3:28 pm

Single Page

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,