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India Aadhaar Program, Now and Future

Biometric Post
Jul 7, 2022
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Biometric Post
India Aadhaar Program, Now and Future

By David Chen, Sales Director, Aratek Biometrics

With 1.2 billion citizens and residents enrolled in the system, India’s Aadhaar is the largest biometrics identity program in the world. According to OECD, the system has registered 99% of adults since the launch of the program in 2009. Citizens and residents are asked to enroll their fingerprints and iris scans into the system whereupon they receive a unique 12-digit ID number. The initiative has helped minimize fraud and abuse in social benefit programs, ensuring benefits or subsidies are distributed to the intended beneficiaries.

Over time, with advancement of technology, India Aadhaar has grown from welfare distribution to improving many other facets of everyday life, from financial inclusion, to SIM card registration, and it's still expected to span many other civil services such as banking, voting, traveling, land and property titles, among others.


Aadhaar Today: To Support the Distribution of Benefits

The program was initially designed to combat starvation and malnutrition across the country, specifically, to help the public distribution system (PDS) which is a government run subsidy program which distributes food and services via more than 500,000 “fair price shops”.

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Before Aadhaar, the intended subsidy recipients had to personally go to the designated shops and manually record the transaction, a practice that bred anomalies such as fraudulent claims of non-existent transactions, or impersonators claiming the subsidy of others. Without help reaching the poorest of the poor, the hunger problem had taken a turn for the worse, bringing with it social and political unrest and threatening the stability of the country.

The use of Aadhaar authentication with STQC certified fingerprint scanners & iris devices, seamless end-to-end transactions became possible, allowing the government to efficiently distribute the right amount of food supply to the intended recipients.

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Aadhaar eliminated wastage by enabling governments in every state to come up with accurate estimates on how much food supply should be allocated to each fair price, making guesswork a thing of the past. The improved subsidy delivery had shored up the Indian people’s confidence in the government, resulting in a win-win situation.

Aadhaar in the Future: Banking, Voting & Traveling

Today, Aadhaar usage has expanded well beyond supplying food to the needy and into other applications such as time and attendance, scholarships, healthcare, pensions, civil services, and financial inclusion, to name a few.  


A study done by PayNearby, a leading India digital payment company shows that more than 58% of rural female customers aged from 31-45 years old prefer using Aadhaar to conduct their banking transactions. With the help of 4G/5G connectivity and affordable smartphones, the number of people using Aadhaar for bank transactions is expected to continue rising.

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The Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS) plays a pivotal role in this transformation. AePS is a bank-led model that allows online interoperable financial transactions at any point of sale (PoS) through the business correspondent of any bank using the Aadhaar authentication. This system aims to empower all sections of society by making financial and banking services available to all through Aadhaar. AePS allows users to perform basic banking transactions like cash withdrawal, balance inquiry, and fund transfers using Aadhaar and biometric authentication, eliminating the need for any physical bank card or remembering PINs. The convenience and security offered by AePS make it a preferred choice for many, especially in rural areas where banking infrastructure might be sparse.


While linking voter’s ID with Aadhaar is currently voluntary, observers expect more people to opt in for a number of reasons, not least of which is convenience. As more Indians relocate from one part of the country to another, they are finding out just how frustrating and time-consuming a paper-based transfer of registration can be. “Even though the linking is voluntary, I’m sure given the sheer convenience, more and more voters will opt to link Aadhaar with their voter I-Card and take advantage of the facility” said former UIDAI chief and financial secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey. Like opening a bank account and activating a SIM card, the number of people using their Aadhaar to complete these activities will only keep growing as time goes by.

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Air travelers can expect an easier and innovative way to check in with their biometrics embedded Aadhaar card and the QR code on the air tickets in Pune, Kolkata, Vijaywada, Varanasi, Delhi, Bangalore, and Hyderabad airports in the coming days. The waiting time can be reduced 30-40% which is a game-changer especially for business travelers.

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Aahdaar Beyond India:

With the success of Aadhaar implementation in India, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is seeking to replicate the Aadhaar architecture in other countries in collaboration with the World Bank and United Nations.

In a recent news report, the UIDAI CEO Saurabh Garg said this, “We are working with international organizations like the World Bank and the UN system to see how we can help them, number one, a kind of digital international standard keeping in view the experience of Aadhaar. More importantly, how the digital architecture, the Aadhaar architecture can be replicated in other countries”.

Today, UIDAI is exploring ways for users to use their own mobile devices to conduct facial recognition for conducting Aadhaar transactions, eliminating the need to obtain special fingerprint or iris scanners.

Aadhaar’s success in improving countless lives in India bodes well for the future of social welfare programs anchored on digital identity. As the Aadhaar architecture extends its benefits to other countries, we can expect to see even more innovative ways and applications designed to uplift the lives of people.

About Aratek

Aratek is a global leader in the biometrics and securities industry. We are dedicated to providing cost-effective products and tailored solutions. We enable governments, educational institutions, banks, and many other industries to become increasingly efficient. With our sophisticated end-to-end product portfolio ranging from fingerprint modules, fingerprint scanners, biometric mobile terminals to facial recognition terminals, Aratek is here to provide real-world solutions to real-world problems.


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