LAHORE: As part of the government’s Digital Pakistan vision, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) is trying to turn computerised national identity cards into digital wallets, with an upgrade to an existing app expected later this year.
“To bring this goal to life, we’ve released the ‘Pak Identification’ mobile app as a major component of digital ID, allowing applicants for national identity cards to apply online.” In an exclusive interview with Dawn, Nadra CEO Tariq Malik stated, “The software enables collecting biometric fingerprints, face recognition, and scan papers needed for processing a person’s ID card using cellphones, without having to visit a Nadra office or embassy.”
“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.
Mr Malik said that with the release of this software, Pakistan has become the first country to use smartphone cameras for “contactless biometric” acquisition and verification. “With successful testing on 75,000 overseas Pakistanis, Nadra will go for a digital wallet,” he said.
The Nadra chairman explained the features of the digital wallet, saying 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.
So far, Nadra has registered 120 million adults (96 percent of the entire population over the age of 18), with Balochistan accounting for 83 percent of the total, compared to over 96 percent 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 contentious subject of future elections using electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Nadra’s involvement in data verification, the authority’s chairman stated: “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.