Biometric sensors on smartphones have enabled a whole new era of biometric authentication based services and mobile payments are the latest ones to join the bandwagon.
The Unique Identification Authority of India, or UIDAI, has been having tremendous success with the country’s national biometric ID program, Aadhaar, and now it turns out that the national authority is gearing up to launch a national level mobile payments system that will use Aadhaar’s biometric data.
To be first launched for Android, the Aadhaar linked mobile payments app will be available from this month itself enabling credit and debit cardholders to enter their Aadhaar number to pay for goods and services. To authenticate the transaction, users will be asked for their fingerprint scan or iris scan depending on the smartphone being used. UIDAI captures both these biometric information during Aadhaar enrolment and that data will be used to verify the authenticity of the transaction.
It’s another example of the biometric ID program’s ever-broadening reach and utility, with the mobile app being an important component of a broader effort to digitize India’s economy and increase economic accountability.
And it may also point to increasing friction with foreign tech companies: While India’s government has displayed an interest in working with organizations like Apple and Google to integrate Aadhaar into their own products and services, those companies’ interest in protecting their technologies from outside intrusion may hinder or prevent such cooperation.
Meanwhile, as the government seeks to promote UIDAI’s new Aadhaar payment app among merchants and the public, it could establish a strong market barrier to Apple Pay and other such mobile payment platforms, which could either compel the tech companies to start working with Aadhaar, or push them further away.