Biometric Card – The Future of Personal Identity

Biometric identification card is an innovative form of e-ID card which is no stranger to people all around the world nowadays. According to Acuity, there are twice as many National e-ID issuing countries as those issuing traditional National IDs in 2013. While e-ID card only contains identity information printed on the surface such as personal details and a facial photograph, with an embedded smart chip to store the information printed on the card, biometric card also contains the holder’s biometric data such as: fingerprint, iris patterns, etc. Biometric card has been widely deployed in many industries from government to commercial sectors thanks to its convenience, security and cost saving ability.

Biometric identification card

Due to the unfortunate rise in terrorism and immigration crisis, many Governments have invested in technologies to improve the security in which biometrics is playing a key role. Consequently, over the last few years, biometric recognition has been used for identification programs in many countries around the globe. One of the largest biometric-based nation ID card projects in history is the Indian Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) program. Its ambition is to biometrically enroll over 1.2 billion residents including their 10 fingerprints and two iris scan patterns. Up to date, more than 960 million Aadhaar numbers were issued. This biometric card has enabled Indian with many government schemes such as: pension, healthcare, insurance, etc. especially those are deprived or living in rural areas. Besides, using biometric card also helped to eliminate identity fraud and bogus activity which leads to a high cost saving. As recently reported by World Bank, Aadhaar ID has saved Indian Government about USD 1 billion a year by reducing corruption and leakage for the Indian government.

As its proven ability as a unique identification tool, biometric technology is also implemented in many different sectors that require accurate identification for convenience and security such as healthcare, immigration, border control, election, banking, and the finance sectors. For example, in early 2015, UNHCR‘s new biometric identity management system (BIMS) has completed building the successful use of biometric card across a number of UNHCR operations globally such as: Malawi, Thailand and Chad. The program’s key purpose is to ensuring protection and the solutions for refugees. Unlike previous UNHCR biometric systems, BIMS captures and stores all fingerprints and iris scans from refugees. Capturing these multiple characteristics, rather than relying for example only on fingerprints, allows for more complete coverage of the population and, thus, more accurate identification. The biometric cards have helped those refugees receive their aids as well as prove their identity in a new country.

In bank and financial sector, biometric technology has risen to become top choices regarding the security level it brings. With 12.6 million victims of identity fraud in 2012, privacy and security concerns are highly increasing. The addition of biometrics can ensure and protect the identity of the cardholder. When users come to the ATM booth for any transactions, the cardholder’s biometric data will be compared with the card owner’s – the one stored in the bank card’s smart chip to identify if they are the same person and then process the transactions. In 2014, MasterCard and Zwipe have unveiled credit Card with fingerprint authentication technology as the replacement with the traditional PIN entry. In some countries such as India and Nigeria, bank accounts are linked with biometric civil ID cards which enable citizens with more convenient and easy accesses to government financial subsidies. As biometric technology is still growing and developing, we’ll be waiting for its broader uses in various sectors with robust deployments in the future.