India’s fintech companies struggle for an alternative to Aadhaar

Imagine driving steadily on a hilly road and suddenly having to brake hard as a landslide blocks the path ahead, leaving the journey incomplete and the destination elusive. This gives a sense of the state India’s financial technology or fintech industry found itself in after the Supreme Court’s Aadhaar judgement.

The apex court’s September 26 ruling barred private companies from accessing the biometric database. It hit the banking and broader financial services sector hard since Aadhaar had provided them with remote access to rural markets and urban poor segments at a nominal cost. Since then, technology companies have been seeking viable alternatives.

A new method has been suggested by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which administers Aadhaar and manages the offline citizen registry. As per the process, any entity that wishes to access Aadhaar numbers online will have to download either the new QR codes or XML format from the UIDAI website. This would keep citizens’ biometric data safe and protect the privacy of the 12-digit unique identification numbers.

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