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UID authority ropes in SBI as first registrar

By Kirtika Suneja
July 05, 2010 06:30 IST
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The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has roped in the country's largest bank - the State Bank of India - to be its registrar.

As a registrar, SBI will collect both demographic and biometric information of the bank's 170 million account holders. It is the first bank to partner with the UID (renamed 'Aadhaar') authority that plans to issue unique numbers to each of India's one billion-plus citizens beginning this August. The bank will help the authority in enrolling people in the UID system by converting the information it has into the UID format.

The UID has set standards to cover the method of collection of demographics - name, age, gender, address and the guardian's name - and biometric attributes like the face, all 10 fingerprints and an iris scan. Since all the 13,000 branches of SBI can't simultaneously enroll people, the bank plans to inform its account holders on the day they can get enrolled in the system.

"Other than SBI, we are also in consultation with 10 public sector banks which will capture data and give it to us," confirmed a highly-placed official from the UIDAI.

"The data with many banks is not in a clean position and this will give them the opportunity to do so. It for the SBI to decide whether the existing account holders will be converted to the UID format or linking the new customers with the UIDs," he said.

The official added the UID authority has also roped in 21 state governments on the project, with the exception of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and the North Eastern states.

"We will sign MoUs with all states by July 15 and get them on board. The first set of Aadhaars will be issued between August this year and February 2011."

On June 8 this year, India's largest life insurance firm, Life Insurance Corporation, had signed an MoU with the UIDAI to become a registrar for the delivery of the unique 12-digit identity number to the people of India.

With this, the UIDAI will also have access to a database of 200 million policyholders of LIC. LIC has details like name, gender, sex, father and mother name of policyholders. It only has to add the biometric details to it. LIC will start the proof-of-concept with some of the training centres and will be ready by August.

UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani also has plans to involve other financial institutes for the project. For the past four to five months, his team has had talks with the Reserve Bank of India, Indian Banks' Association, National Payments Corporation of India, Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology and various banks on microATMs for financial inclusion, which is one of the biggest goal of Aadhar.

MicroATMs will allow customers to perform basic financial transactions using only their UID number and their fingerprint as identity proof (along with a Bank Identification Number for inter-bank transactions).

The UIDAI is preparing for the first rollout of the UID or Aadhaar from August 2010. Banks and financial institutions could either look at their existing customer base or focus on acquiring new customers and share that database with the UIDAI which will provide a client enrolment software to the registrars and de-duplication services too.

The authority has been allocated Rs 1,900 crore (Rs 19 billion) for the financial year ending March 31, 2011, of which Rs 1,300 crore (Rs 13 billion) will be used for enabling the registrars to enroll people in the system and the remaining Rs 600 crore (Rs 6 billion) will go towards the setting up of the IT infrastructure.
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Kirtika Suneja in New Delhi
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