Over 5 crore Aadhaar-based identity authentications are being done online across India every day, according to Saurabh Garg, chief executive of the Unique Identification Authority of India (Uidai) -- the Aadhaar issuing body. Speaking about the nation-wide adoption of Aadhaar at the India Digital Summit 2022, Garg also touched upon how Aadhaar has helped bolster financial transactions in rural Indian markets.
“Over 40 crore last-mile banking transactions are being done every month on the AePS system through 50 lakh micro-ATMs,” Garg said.
AePS, or Aadhaar-enabled Payment System, is a project by the National Payments Council of India (NPCI). The project seeks to bring connected banking facilities to last-mile sectors such as rural regions, where even internet connectivity might be scarce at the moment. According to the NPCI, AePS requires a user to have an Aadhaar-linked bank account and registered biometrics.
If these criteria are fulfilled, users can avail services such as cash withdrawal and cashless transactions at merchants. The transactions are done through a point-of-sale (PoS) machine, via an appointed business correspondent (BC) who oversees the transaction. The BC, in turn, is appointed by banks authorised to offer AePS services by the NPCI.
Garg’s session at the India Digital Summit 2022 echoed the words of Nandan Nilekani, non-executive director of Infosys at the Mint Annual Banking Conclave in December 2021. According to Nilekani, Aadhaar has become a key instrument in offering democratised online payments and banking services to users of all financial strata across the country.
This transition, Nilekani had said, could be a key in collating the data and creating credit profiles by mapping the digital footprint of a user -- and not through the conventional credit rating methods. Such a move could help citizens across India to get micro loans, which would democratise the Indian lending sector and financially empower more people across the country, according to Nilekani.
Talking about the ubiquity of Aadhaar, Garg said that as of now, there are a total of 131 crore Aadhaar numbers generated in India, which accounts for 99.8 per cent penetration rate among adults in the country. “The only age group where the registration of Aadhaar is still low is between zero and five, where we are now trying to increase adoption by expanding our outreach,” Garg said.
Garg also touched upon keeping Aadhaar as a free service, stating that Aadhaar-based authentication will always remain free for individuals.
Finally, Garg also reiterated the focus on security for Aadhaar 2.0, where Uidai seeks to use technologies such as quantum computing and blockchain to bolster the identification’s security standards. The same was also spoken about at the Aadhaar 2.0 Workshop organised by the Uidai in November 2021, where experts spoke about the need to adopt new technologies that make Aadhaar safer even at the third party adoption end.
“We are looking at what blockchain has to offer, whether it can be utilised for making decentralised solutions. We are exploring how we can use cost-effective but secure Aadhaar data wall solutions, and confidential computing as a technology, in authentication. In quantum computing, we need to look at whether there are quantum resilient security solutions,” Garg said.