Biometrics, Identity and Development
Research (very much) In Progress Seminar
September 16, 2010,
CGD
Alan Gelb and Caroline Decker
Biometrics Identity and Development (abbr) 3a 091510
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Biometrics is not uncontroversial
“The wasteful, bureaucratic and intrusive ID card scheme
represents everything that has been wrong with government
in recent years.”
~ UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (2010)
“Privacy is dead, get over it.”
~Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems
(1999)
Leapfrog technology, very relevant
to development
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Introduction
• Original motivation : cash transfers of resource rents to
citizens Identification is essential
• But:
– Identity is a much wider issue than transfers. Part of
development process.
– Huge Externalities to Identity
– Growing number of bio programs in developing countries +
new BIG player
– Range of policy and coordination
issues: governments, donors,
private sector
• No overall summary…
• Objectives? Beyond a paper?
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Outline of presentation
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What is biometric identification?
Some system options
Five +1 case studies
Issues and debates on
biometrics
• The future of biometrics
and development
• Next steps for research?
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What is Biometric Identification?
Identifying someone based on unique physical or behavioral trait
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Identifiers
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Fingerprints
Palm prints
Footprints
Vein mapping
Hand geometry
Face prints
Earprints
Retina
Iris scans
Tongue prints
DNA
Voice prints
Gait
Dynamic Signature
• Possible uses
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Security
Criminology
Anti-terrorism
Crowd recognition
Immigration
General identification for
economic purposes
• Different levels of precision
and intrusiveness
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Fingerprints
• Ancient: 650 BC speculation unique
• 150 years used for criminal forensics;
digitization in 1990s 40 different points
• Simple readers $30
• Accuracy: 99.9% -95% (latent prints, less)
• Early capture age about 12
• Susceptible to wear, damage
• Potential to be fooled in lab conditions
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Iris
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1994 John Daugmann Iriscode algorithm
266 digital feature points, still rapid comparison rate
Very accurate: Prob 2 identical 1 in 10e78; 99% +
Stable by 8 months. Eyes self cleaning
Fooled by pictures in labs newer readers also check
for living eye
• Does not involve physical contact
• Readers $4,000 but quickly becoming cheaper
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Some System Options
1 Universal vs. Programmatic Adoption
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Universal ID Project
Typical national ID project
• Malaysia, Costa Rica,
India,
Many applications
Economies of scale
Concern for security
Big Brother State?
Upfront cost before benefits
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Programmatic ID
Individual projects
• DRC, Malawi, KZN,
Gujarat
Smaller budgets; cost vs.
savings
Potential externalities
Need for planning and
coordination
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2 Payment Options for Cash Transfers
Pull
– Payment at specific time and
location
– Allows dissemination of
information and services at
the same time
– Less convenient for staff and
recipients
– Example: DRC (final method:
mobile pay stations)
Push
– Financial account necessary,
possibly e-banking
– Convenient - cash accessible
anytime in numerous POS,
merchants etc
– More expensive to set up, but
cost effective long term
– Examples: Namibia, Botswana
(ATMs), South Africa
(Sekukula account)
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Methods of Payment
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Cash
– Risky: concentrated cash
– No saving/banking options
– Requires pull mechanism
• Vouchers
– Allow for saving, but not banking
– Requires pick up, pull payment
– Safer: no cash on hand at distribution
• Smart Card
– Can use pull or push payments
– Allows for saving, not necessarily banking
• Bank Direct Deposit (mobile banking)
– Offers externality of banking services
– Push payment service
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3 Identity Validation
• Pure Biometrics
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Constant through life
Cannot be shared
Does not require literacy
Nothing for recipient to lose
Cheaper, no smart card
Doesn’t support offline push
system
• Smart Card
• Photo ID
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3 Identity Validation
• Pure Biometrics
• Smart Card
– Information on card, offline system. Validation with either
bio ID and:
– Pin
• Readers cheaper
• Can be used remotely
• Can be reprogrammed when compromised
• Can be shared or stolen
• Harder for illiterate populations
• Photo ID
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3 Identity Validation
• Pure Biometrics
• Smart Card
• Photo ID
– Requires human interface, more susceptible to error
– Easier to forge or fake
– May appear cheaper than biometrics or smart card
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Five +1 Cases:
Afghanistan/Pakistan (UNHCR)
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Objective: Resettlement payments
Over 200,000 refugees processed
Began 2002
Iris scans before payment
Prevented round-tripping
Most basic use of biometric ID
“It has proven very successful, meeting not only cultural needs of
the refugees but the operational requirements of UNHCR.”
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DRC (World Bank)
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Objective: demobilization payments
102,000 soldiers
13 payments over one year
Iris scans for registration
Push system later Pull system
Banking system not set up in time for full
use
• Sparse rural areas
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Malawi (DFID/Concern)
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Objective: cash relief after drought 2006 (DECT)
11,000 households, only lasted five months
Fingerprinting for both registration and payment
Smartcard bank based system but bank not fully geared up so
manual payment.
• Biometrics not immediately cost-effective due to careful selection
process, small scale,
short term.
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4 South Africa KZN (Government)
• Objective: pensions and other social
payments
• 1990: first such known use of
biometrics
• 5 million grants delivered per year
• Fingerprints for both registration and
payment
• Modified Pull payment, fixed and
mobile centers. Developed into Push
system
• Extended nationwide; also to Namibia
• Apartheid  fingerprinting  grants to
poor
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5 a India (Andhra Pradesh Gov’t)
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Objective: Employment Guarantee and Pensions
Replaced traditional well-run system. 5 million people
Fingerprints, smartcards, Push payment system,  pure bio
Convenient, little to no leakage
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5b India Unique ID (UIDAI)
• Nationwide, multifunction program, Largest in world. ID only.
• Registration underway, fingerprint and iris, not yet
compulsory….
• Using international standards, potential to bring down costs
sharply for all countries
• Payment systems will use Push system with POS
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Debates on Biometrics
1. Too Costly?
• Basic registration:
Enrolment station 
hardware 10c/ person..
• Sao Tome 160,000 ;
5 stations cover in 2 years
• Haiti 10 million;
• 200 stations cover in 3 years
• National ID Costa Rica $1.11/per person; India $5; South Africa $10
• Overall costs of applications need to include technology; single
smartcard can cost $2 +
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Are There Potential Savings?
• Africa: PETS leakages 30% - 60%, wages 20% Chad 98%
• Southern Africa: Pension theft, ghost workers in KZN…reported savings up
to 20% in Namibia (NET1)
• India: Andhra Pradesh bio showed prior losses of 12% ; other states 30%;
one state 70%
• India: Estimated loss of 40% social payments ($110 billion). Two thirds
corruption, rest misdirection. Only 15% reaches poor.
• USA programs lose $4 billion to welfare double dippers each year
Biometrics cannot solve all problems including those related to targeting,
but can reduce leakage. Losses very low.
• “Technological approaches are more expensive to set up, but more costeffective in the long run, not least because they have greater potential for
multiple applications.” Innovations Report, Malawi
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Potential Savings
(India)
Expected leakage of government's funds likely to be spent over next five
years
Rsbn
3500
58%
3000
48%
Reaching the Deserved
2500
30%
Leakage
2000
50%
1500
38%
1000
500
25%
0
Food
NREGA
Kerosene
Midday Meal
Petroleum (ex
Kerosene)
Fertiliser
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Can Bio be Used in Difficult Conditions?
• Technology will be difficult for rural populations? No.
– One hour of training needed in DRC for operators
– “Clients adapted well to technology” ~Malawi report
• May be easier than traditional ID methods
– Different spellings of
names
– PINs higher-risk
– Tokens or books are
often lost
• Some applications do
need mobile
communications but
spreading
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Civil Liberties or Public Accountability?
• Major concern in developed world, and in views of some in
developing countries
• But opposing view: less liberties to erode, strengthens
citizens against rapacious officials
• Some NGOs note the increased transparency of programs
strengthens accountability
• What privacy and civil liberties are low-income citizens likely
to lose?
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Undermines “Human” Approaches?
• Direct transfers weaken community structures?
• Offset: possibility of local taxation strengthening representation
– See Saving Ghana from Its Oil (Moss and Young)
• Weakens bureaucracy and less face-time for citizens?
• Offset: depends on quality of governance
• Political economy of Bio-ID including for transfers ?
– Bypasses major chunks of
bureaucracy.
– But potentially closer
connectedness to the state
because programs work?
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Data Integrity for Future?
• Will data still be secure in 20, 30, 40 years?
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Questions for the Future
BIOMETRICS IS COMING.
• How do we maximize its development potential?
• Programmatic introduction in LICs often associated with
donor programs. Potential for huge saving in efficiency,
especially in less functional states.
• Opens the door to better approaches. Haiti? Pakistan?
• How to maximize externalities ,
towards a more coordinated
approach and international
standards?
• Survey paper + ? CGD?
• Encourage research.
• Little rigorous exists….
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END
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Biometrics, Identity and Development