LAHORE: The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) is working to make the computerised national identity cards digital wallets under the government’s Digital Pakistan vision and an update to an already existing app will likely be made available later this year.

“Translating this vision into reality, we have launched the ‘Pak Identity’ mobile app as a key building block of digital ID to facilitate applicants of national identity cards through an online portal. The app helps capture biometric fingerprints, facial recognition and scan documents needed for processing a person’s ID card using smartphones, without visiting a Nadra office or embassy,” Nadra chief Tariq Malik said in an exclusive talk with Dawn.

“In a short span, 75,000 overseas Pakistanis have processed their national identity cards [called Nicop] from the comfort of their homes by using the app, which is supported by two-factor authentication,” he explained. The app is available on both Android and iOS platforms.

Users will be able to avail the facility through an app later this year

Mr Malik said that with the launch of this app, Pakistan has become the first country to implement “contactless biometric” acquisition and verification using smartphone cameras. “With successful testing on 75,000 overseas Pakistanis, Nadra will go for a digital wallet,” he said.

Explaining the features of digital wallet, the Nadra chairman said it would be a unique digital ID. “This innovation will revolutionise the national ID eco-system in Pakistan by ensuring public convenience, and is a leap forward putting an end to the conventional physical ID,” he said.

“The digital dividends of such technology innovation will yield positive results in contactless banking, financial inclusion, ease of doing business and e-governance initiatives by offering remote identification and e-KYC (electronic know your customer),” he added.

Nadra has registered 120 million adults (96 per cent of the total population aged above 18) to date, with Balochistan constituting 83pc registration, compared to over 96pc in other provinces.

“Nadra is going to open centres in the remaining 20 of the total 517 tehsils in the country by June,” he said, adding that the authority would also launch 96 mobile vans, taking their number to 356 countrywide.

Regarding the thorny issue of the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in future elections and Nadra’s role in the verification of data, the authority’s chairman said: “EVM or no EVM, polls will have to be held through the Nadra data. However, the authority has no role in the operation of the machine. It’s the Election Commission’s domain,” he stated.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2022

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