National ID Month: 4 Biometric Countries

National eID card programs are set to encompass half the world population in three years time, according to a report by Acuity Market Intelligence, and biometrics play a key role in said initiatives. September is National ID Month at FindBiometrics, in which we have been taking an in depth look at this proliferating global market that accounts for some of the largest biometric deployments in the world.

Of course, while the 2018 goalpost forecasted by Acuity requires the further spread of National ID programs, a great number of countries included in that figure already have undertaken biometric registration initiatives for their citizens. Here’s a look at four countries, their national ID programs, and how biometrics factor into them.



public-domain-images-free-stock-photos-woman-earth-globe-white-short-outdoors-water-reflection-1000x666Perhaps the most ambitious national ID program in the world is the Aadhaar initiative undertaken by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The national registry contains biographic and biometric data on every enrolled citizen, and though participation is voluntary for most living in India, there are a great deal of benefits offered by Aadhaar including the nation’s generous universal healthcare scheme.

The biometrics used in Aadhaar are fingerprint, iris and face. Because of the sheer size of India, and due to the remote locations of some of its citizens who could most benefit from its perks, the enrollment process is taking advantage of a great deal of modern biometric technology. For instance: Green Bit’s STQC certified Dactyscan84c 10-prints Livescan technology, optimized for mass enrollment solutions.

Recently a biometric iris scanning facility was launched in Andra Pradesh for the Aadhaar-based distribution of pensions. Andra Pradesh will be using iris biometrics as a primary authentication method to issue Direct Benefit Transfer, and in order to do so it has employed the IriShield USB MK120U from IriTech – the first iris biometrics solution to be STQC certified for the Aadhaar national ID program.


Biometric ID, National IDIsrael is currently in a pilot phase for its own incredibly ambitious biometric national ID card program. In June, the country’s national ID pilot phase was extended despite serious criticism regarding its effectiveness and ability to deliver actionable statistics.

Two hours after Interior Minister Silvan Shalom announced the nine month extension the program’s detractors released a report detailing the program’s shortcomings. In addition to not offering any metrics regarding the program’s efficacy in curbing identity fraud, the trial national ID program has also been criticized for embarrassing levels of defectiveness. Sixteen percent of the 91,000 ID cards being used at the Ben-Gurion Airport have been reported as faulty or inoperable and 430,000 biometric scans have been reported as defective.

Taking the report in stride, Shalom pointed to other countries in which national ID has been successfully implemented, citing the primary difficulty stemming from the Knesset State Control Committee simply needing more time to get acquainted with the program (hence the trial’s extension).


tumblr_n9mlpkkAQo1tbxd4lo1_1280Biometric national ID powered by Ideal Innovations, Inc. (I3) has been implemented in Afghanistan for international security reasons. The Afghanistan Ministry of the Interior, in a 2011 report from the FBI titled Mission Afghanistan, stated that it had planned to enroll 8 million citizens in its national ID program serving what one government official called “the betterment of the country.” Built to be compatible with the FBI’s own biometrics database, the primary goal of Afghanistan’s national ID project is to better understand the movements of the country’s population and uncover previously invisible terrorist threats.

Of course, additional benefits come along with biometric national ID, and in Afghanistan that is still true. Though the rollout of the biometric ID cards has been reported as hitting a few snags along the way, when it was first announced The Guardian pointed out that such a program could potentially address the nation’s history of rampant electoral corruption.

South Africa

Finger scanner icons on black background. Vector illustration.

Moving our focus to South Africa we find the enormous and successful national fingerprint database deployed by NEC Corporation. South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs began the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) in order to do away with paper systems in 21st century fashion (digitally). A key aspect of HANIS is NEC’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which is able to store 50 million records and conduct 1:n matching procedures, boasting 99.9% accuracy.

While the usual national ID benefits were observed after the implementation, a white paper from NEC describing the project asserts that HANIS has had an even greater effect on South Africa. It is no secret that the nation’s diverse population of 48 million has been divided by language, race and culture on many occasions, but with the national ID program no matter what color or creed a person living in the country may be, they can all share one thing in common: they are definitively South African.


Be sure to register for our National ID Month webinar, Biometrics, National ID and the Future of Global Identity. Stay posted to FindBiometrics throughout September as we continue this conversation with National ID Month. Take part in the discussion by following us on Twitter and tweeting with the hashtag #FBNational.

National ID Month is made possible by our sponsors  NEC Corporation of America and Green Bit Biometric Systems.

September 24, 2015 – by Peter B. Counter