India to widen identity scope of Aadhaar authentication
02 February 2016 15:47 GMT

India’s government is exploring the use of identity services providers as part of using the biometrics-backed Aadhaar identity cards for checking the credentials of drivers and domestic helps being hired.

New Delhi wants to widen the scope of the Aadhaar authentication system - so far restricted to banks and a few government departments - and throw it open to individuals and private companies, while ensuring that privacy concerns are addressed by using a more secure method, reports the Economic Times.

Citizens would be able to use the unique identity number to verify details of others for a small fee. Unlike other identity documents such as voter, ration and PAN cards, the Aadhaar UID number can be checked online in real time. The service can also be used by companies that want to authenticate the records of their consumers and staff.

Meanwhile, third-party agencies could carry out the authentication on behalf of individuals and companies, an official told the newspaper.

In the service to be extended to private companies and citizens, only the bar code on the Aadhaar letter will be scanned and the data it contains will be sent to the Aadhaar database for verification and returned with a yes or no. "This will be most secure way of authentication since there will be no transfer of any citizen data through the UID database," the official said.

According to UIDAI, there are about 330 authentication user agencies and over 111 crore transactions have been handled since the inception of the service. About 20 companies have signed up for the Aadhaar authentication service, including telecom service providers such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and state-owned BSNL, along with financial services firms such as MasterCard and Visa.

"Firms which have a high number of workforce or spend a significant amount in carrying our user verification can benefit greatly from this service," the official said.

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