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India introduces face, iris biometrics system to reduce bank fraud

Large private and public banks in India have been given the green light to conduct face and iris biometric checks on people who carry out substantial financial transactions over the course of the year, according to a report by Reuters.

Citing three unnamed sources, the outlet reveals that the move, which the Indian federal government has not yet officially announced, is meant to reduce fraud and tax evasion incidents.

Reuters notes that face and iris biometric verification will not be compulsory, being only required for persons whose Personal Account Number (PAN) card – an ID card used for tax transactions – is not shared with the bank concerned.

Some banks have reportedly already started using the system, although no bank doing so is identified.

In the wake of the development, some privacy experts are raising concerns about potential issues, given that India does not yet have any specific legislation on the use of facial recognition data.

Reuters said its request for comment to the ministry of finance received no response. Still, it quotes two anonymous government officials saying the facial recognition check will involve people who make annual deposits or withdrawals of over two million Indian rupees (roughly US$24,600).

This directive comes just weeks after the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), in a letter, called on banking institutions to verify and authenticate customers using facial recognition and iris scanning systems.

A UIDAI spokesman told Reuters that such checks do not violate any privacy as they are done with the user’s consent. The official adds that facial recognition and iris scanning are only used when the fingerprint biometric option fails.

India hopes to get parliamentary endorsement for a new privacy law in the first quarter of this year. Large private and public banks in India have been given the green light to conduct face and iris biometric checks on people who carry out substantial financial transactions over the course of the year, according to a report by Reuters.

Citing three unnamed sources, the outlet reveals that the move, which the Indian federal government has not yet officially announced, is meant to reduce fraud and tax evasion incidents.

Reuters notes that face and iris biometric verification will not be compulsory, being only required for persons whose Personal Account Number (PAN) card – an ID card used for tax transactions – is not shared with the bank concerned.

Some banks have reportedly already started using the system, although no bank doing so is identified.

In the wake of the development, some privacy experts are raising concerns about potential issues, given that India does not yet have any specific legislation on the use of facial recognition data.

Reuters said its request for comment to the ministry of finance received no response. Still, it quotes two anonymous government officials saying the facial recognition check will involve people who make annual deposits or withdrawals of over two million Indian rupees (roughly US$24,600).

This directive comes just weeks after the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), in a letter, called on banking institutions to verify and authenticate customers using facial recognition and iris scanning systems.

A UIDAI spokesman told Reuters that such checks do not violate any privacy as they are done with the user’s consent. The official adds that facial recognition and iris scanning are only used when the fingerprint biometric option fails.

India hopes to get parliamentary endorsement for a new privacy law in the first quarter of this year.  Read More   

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