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Fingerprint Biometrics Power Financial Inclusion in India

In the era of digital transformation, biometric authentication technologies are rapidly being integrated into the banking and finance sectors worldwide. Fingerprint biometrics in particular are empowering millions of people, especially those in rural areas, by democratizing access to banks and other essential resources.

Across India, the adoption of fingerprint biometrics establishes a vital bridge that connects diverse sections of society to important mainstream services. For citizens, it can be a lifeline. For businesses, it drastically reduces fraud and supports the region’s financial inclusion (FI) mandates. 

Fingerprint Biometrics Fuel Financial Inclusion

The call for financial inclusion in India involves seamlessly integrating the financially underprivileged into the formal banking arena. Its aim is to ensure access to financial services — namely a basic savings and deposit account, remittance, credit, insurance, pensions, etc. — in an affordable manner. 

Many people in various socioeconomic categories or remote locations face challenges around fair treatment, opportunity and/or illiteracy when it comes to financial matters. Plus, the practice of passwords and PIN-based authentication can be a battle as these factors are often difficult to remember or can be lost, stolen or compromised. 

The dilemma: How can financial entities ensure ease of access while maintaining strong security?

The answer: Fingerprint biometrics.

Fingerprint biometrics strike the right balance between security and accessibility for people of all ages and technical backgrounds. It’s a game-changer for those on either side of the financial services counter — combatting constantly evolving security threats from inside and out (identity fraud, money laundering, account takeovers, etc.). 

Biometric credentials are nearly impossible to share or steal and deliver the highest levels of identity assurance while dramatically lowering the ability for hackers to spoof a customer or bad actors/employees to commit fraudulent banking activities. Customers simply place their finger on a reader for quick and hassle-free authentication. Bank employees take the same approach to access files and systems — with many institutions applying two-factor authentication (2FA) for heightened security measures — all while creating an audit trail of accountability. 

Spreading Biometric Innovation Across India

In recent years, technology solution provider Integra Micro Systems — in collaboration with biometrics leader HID® and long-time distribution partner Aqtronics — has steadily implemented fingerprint authentication systems across banks throughout India. As a result of this effort, more than 100 million banking customers are using Integra’s application, revolutionizing financial access and broadening its reach to all corners of the country.

This success is based on an intuitive, easy-to-deploy solution that’s tailored for financial inclusion. It incorporates HID’s capacitive TouchChip® fingerprint modules that are highly accurate, durable and designed to handle high-volume requirements for busy banking environments. 

In addition, apart from supplying products as a value-added distributor, Aqtronics was instrumental in supporting other aspects of the project, including the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) certification and the Standardization Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) required to work with the Aadhaar system in India. Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric identification system with more than 1.3 billion Indian residents enrolled in the program. The security, accuracy and efficiency provided by HID fingerprint readers paired with requisite hardware, software and certifications to comply and check identities against the national Aadhaar identity database, together play a major role in this country-wide financial inclusion initiative.

Pressing Forward 

The immediate goal of this project was to enable banking transactions for rural customers who had never been part of the formal banking system. They created a secure bank account tied to a unique biometric identifier — their fingerprint — ensuring no one else could access their funds. The project not only served as a stepping stone for these individuals into modern times, but also paved the way for banking organizations to adopt broader, more versatile authentication systems for small- or large-scale, frequent-use endeavors. 

Looking ahead, HID’s partners intend to expand biometric collaborations by exploring progressive technologies such as distributed identity and passwordless verification. These kinds of continuous innovations are cornerstones for a more interconnected and integrated tomorrow as the virtuous vision of financial inclusion sweeps across India and takes hold in other nations. What can biometric authentication and verification do for industries and applications within your borders?  

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