The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has introduced contactless biometric verification services, for banking and the payment industry according to a press release.

The technology will allow banks to capture and verify the biometrics of potential account holders through a digital smartphone application.

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This development makes Pakistan one of the first countries in the world to launch the technology on a national level.

The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) said that a pilot project has been launched, with the service extended to five banks nominated by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). The pilot run will include other banks and fully SBP-licensed Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) after they complete the necessary formalities.

The service was launched during a visit of the Governor of the SBP, Dr. Reza Baqir, to the NADRA Headquarters, and will be extended to all the banks and EMIs after the pilot project ends.

Dr. Baqir remarked that the “early adoption of this new technology has endless potential to reach towards underserviced 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”.

The Chairman of the NADRA, Tariq Malik, said, “We are addressing the need of the hour during this ongoing pandemic,” and added that “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/franchises”.

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The technology will allow banks to offer new online digital banking services through which customers will be able to open bank accounts and carry out biometric-based transactions using their smartphones. Malik added that “this will not only revolutionize how banking and payments services are offered in the country but will also complement the financial inclusion drive”.