The advent of contactless biometric verification service by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has catapulted Pakistan at the forefront of the countries tapping cutting edge ICT systems to enable the next iteration of innovation in the banking and payments industry.
The development has been made possible by Pakistan’s all-encompassing biometric national ID database on the one hand, and near-universal presence of fingerprint sensors on smart mobile devices. Equally important, the system capitalises on Nadra’s world-class information technology prowess.
Now in the pilot phase, the system launched by Nadra on the request of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP, makes Pakistan one of the first countries in the world to implement the technology on national level.
The service was introduced during a visit by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Dr Reza Baqir to the Nadra headquarters on 10 September, 2021. The banks in Pakistan will make use of the digital app on smartphones wherein they will be capturing and verifying biometrics of the potential account holders within the comfort of their homes as per their convenience. With the commencement of this new advanced feature in digital technology, the banking system will take a paradigm shift adding remote biometric capturing technology to the digital banking system.
The service has initially been made applicable to five banks nominated by the SBP for a pilot project. Other banks and SBP-licensed EMIs (Electronic Money Institutions) may also join the pilot run after completion of necessary formalities. Once the pilot is completed, this service will be extended to all banks and EMIs.
SBP governor sees endless potential in new technology to reach the under-serviced population. The SBP governor said: “This new mobile-based verification service for banks and Electronic Money Institutions is in line with SBP’s financial inclusion initiative while creating opportunities for rapid on-boarding using remote identification and e-KYC features.”
He further added, “Early adoption of this new technology has endless potential to reach the under-serviced population while it extends a great benefit to the financial sector as it will reduce the operational costs, aiding in releasing pressure on banks which have been negatively impacted during this pandemic.”
“We are addressing the need of the hour during this on-going pandemic” Nadra Chairman Tariq Malik said speaking at the launch event. “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 or franchises.
“Nadra is proud to maintain its reputation for introducing niche technological trends in the country. It is another step towards our aim of creating a robust National ID EcoSystem in Pakistan.”
Banks have started development work to tap this new service. Nadra will also be providing this service to the Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) as well as branchless banking providers.
Making profit out of Nadra’s innovative product, the banks and EMIs are likely to start offering new digital banking services to their customers whereby bank customers will be able to open bank accounts and wallets and conduct biometric based financial transactions using their mobile phone cameras from the ease of their homes.
“This will not only revolutionise how banking and payments services are offered in the country but will also compliment the financial inclusion drive,” said Nadra chairman Nadra, who introduced a similar mobile verification service for Online ID Services (Pak ID) earlier that was launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan on 1 September, 2021.