Citizens of rich countries take official identification for granted. But many in poor countries lack robust IDs, or indeed any documentation at all. This “identity gap” has been an obstacle to inclusive development in many countries. But increasingly, governments and donors have turned to digital fingerprints, iris scans, and other biometrics to provide inclusive, secure and accurate identification for their citizens, from national IDs, to elections and social welfare payments. In a recent Center for Global Development working paper, we surveyed 160 cases where biometric identification had been used for such programmes in over 70 developing countries — cases which cover over 1 billion people!
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