Aadhaar is an (now) old but innovative initiative the Government of India to connect everything about a citizen with everything a citizen does. While the underlying goal has also been viewed upon as a system created for surveillance; the obvious goal and the one which is immediately understandable by all – is one foundational ID for everything. Whether it is your driving license, your PAN Card or others, the Aadhaar (which means foundation in Hindi) is touted to connect all these pieces of information under one single platform.
The Aadhaar platform launched by the Govt. has not been perfect. It has had its pitfalls. There have been cases where the Aadhaar cards have been forged and used for gaining access to sensitive information. There have also been cases where Aadhaar cards information have been collected and sold online for Rs. x per card. All this said, the initiative has has seen its dark days but it has also benefited from these days as well. How you ask?
Let me take an example from software deployment. When we build a product, it takes months, if not years to get it to perfection. The market cannot wait that long and so companies introduced a concept of beta testing. You open the access of the product to a limited number of people and let the feedback come in openly. That critical feedback helps upgrade the platform and fix its pitfalls.
Today, Aadhaar has undergone multiples upgrades and revamps which made the platform far more reliable and secure than it’s ever been. To appreciate how far the platform has come, we must dive into what all the platform does.
The Aadhaar platform started off by setting up centres where each and every citizen of the country went and recorded vital pieces of information about themselves, such as fingerprints, iris prints, demographic information, address related information and more. Once the information collection process was over, the platform came out with APIs which were accessible openly (if you had the right access).
Once the Govt. had crossed 80% coverage of Aadhaar, it was then easier to expose these APIs to vital pillars of the economy. There are two kinds of Aadhaar APIs available today. First is Aadhaar based authentication – in which a citizen puts a finger to reader, types in the Aadhaar ID (AID) and the server replies whether or not, the ID matches the finger. The second goes a step further. In the second API, in case the first case is valid, the server replies with 12-15 fields about the user (which were collected during the Aadhaar creation process).
If we talk about how the Aadhaar platform is being used. Well, everyday there is a new use case which comes around so it is hard to classify all of them in a single place. But if one has to cite examples, there are a few.
The Govt. has to qualify people for distribution of amenities and services which is where authentication is a problem. Anyone with a fake certificate comes over and takes something they aren’t qualified for. That’s where Aadhaar shines.
Another area is where customers need to be validated with the correct contact information and identity checks which is where Aadhaar eKYC brings a ton of ease.
These and many more use cases are something I have recently seen in a demo of the FeetPort. How they are different from any other application is – they have made their platform completely dynamic and ready for plug and play. So all you need is to open an account with them, and the rest of the process is pretty seamless.
The amount of customization that is possible on FeetPort is quite unprecedented.
Coming back, Aadhaar as a platform has seriously matured into a bundle of use-cases which can be extremely transformational and sometimes revolutionary.
Let’s hope these implementations are carried out with emphasis on security and privacy which makes the initiative welcoming.