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Pakistan has become one of the first countries in the world to implement biometric verification technology on a national level.
Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has announced the launch of contactless biometric verification services for the banking and payments industry. This move has made Pakistan one of the first countries in the world to implement the technology on a national level.
According to a statement issued on Thursday (9 September 2021), the biometric verification service was introduced by the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBPs) Governor, Dr Reza Baqir, at the NADRA headquarters.
With the use of a digital app in smartphones, NADRA will verify the identity of each account holder through their biometric data. With the introduction of remote biometric verification technology, the government agency aims to digitise the banking system and ease the ID verification difficulties brought by the pandemic.
The authority further added that initially, the service has been made available to five SBP-nominated banks for a pilot run. Once all formalities have been completed, other banks and fully licensed EMIs (Electronic Money Institutions), will also be included in this arrangement. After the pilot has been successfully completed, the biometric verification service will be extended to all banks and EMIs.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Baqir stated, “This new mobile-based verification service for banks and EMIs is in line with SBP’s financial inclusion initiative while creating opportunity for rapid onboarding using remote identification and e-KYC features”.
Adding to this, he asserted the importance of e-KYC processes in reducing operational costs and easing pressure on the banking sector induced by COVID-19.
NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik addressed the public and stated, “This new technology makes contactless fingerprint acquisition and matching possible using a smart mobile phone, providing an alternative to conventional methods of conducting digital financial transactions that may require specialised equipment or visits to bank branches.”
Capitalising on NADRA’s initiative, banks and EMIs intend to start offering new digital banking services to their customers, enabling them to onboard customers remotely and perform biometric verification prior to accepting transactions. The service will be facilitated through the use of mobile phone cameras for identity verification.
On September 1st 2021, NADRA launched a similar mobile verification service called Pak ID – an app that captures biometric information such as fingerprints and facial features, and scans necessary documents required for processing citizen ID cards.
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