Database, payments start-ups leverage Aadhaar for identity check

According to Tracxn, Aadhaar has provided the base for at least nine start-ups engaged in activities as diverse as creating a database for blue-collar jobs and eKYC


Over 1.04 billion Aadhaar numbers have been issued as of 15 August 2016. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Over 1.04 billion Aadhaar numbers have been issued as of 15 August 2016. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi: Piyush Peshwani and Vineet Bansal jointly founded OnGrid (Handy Online Solutions Pvt. Ltd.) in May with the idea of using Aadhaar-based authentication to check the backgrounds of blue-collar workers and create a database.

The database would contain information on a worker’s past job record and performance ratings plus salary details.

“Blue-collar industry has the highest amount of frauds such as using fake identity cards. And the industry is such, that the attrition rates go up to 80% so it becomes very expensive for any company to do a background verification,” said Bansal.

Bansal and Peshwani are just two of the many entrepreneurs using Aadhaar, which was started as a biometric-based identification system and became the pivot of direct transfer of government subsidies. According to Tracxn, which tracks early-stage companies, Aadhaar has provided the base for at least nine start-ups engaged in activities as diverse as creating a database for blue-collar jobs, payment solutions based on retina scanning, electronic know your customer (eKYC) and digitising documents.

Also Read: Aadhaar enrolment figures rises to 105 crore

OnGrid currently works with 30 businesses including start-ups in e-commerce and food delivery, which regularly hire people for last-mile deliveries. Its also records feedback from clients on an employee’s performance so that future employers can access it.

Gurgaon-based OnGrid now has a team of 13 people and offers verification services in 50 cities. It has reduced the verification time from 20-30 days costing Rs1,000 to three days, earning on average Rs50-400 per candidate it refers to a client. It performs background checks on 25,000-30,000 people in a month.

OnGrid’s target is to grow 25% month on month in the next one year, when it will try to raise $1.5-3 million in a series A funding round.

Other companies that operate in this segment include IDfy (Baldor Technologies Pvt. Ltd) and TrustId (Swabhimaan Distribution Services Pvt. Ltd), among others.

According to information on the website of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which issues these numbers, over 1.04 billion Aadhaar numbers have been issued as of 15 August 2016. The authority was set up to record identity-based information and biometrics (fingerprint and retina scan) and issue them unique 12-digit identification numbers.

Companies like Simpal Mobile Payments and Information Services are trying to leverage the biometric data linked with Aadhaar to be used as a mode of payment.

Founded by Vineet Toshniwal in 2015, Simpal is betting on the low penetration of point of sale (POS) devices.

“Out of about estimated 30 to 40 million merchants, 1.2 million merchants have a POS (device). This is because, for a majority of the merchants, a small transaction of Rs20-30 becomes unviable over a POS”, said Toshniwal.

“(For India )...to become a cashless economy, all such merchants would have to adapt to such a technology of cashless payment that is easy to understand and use,” Toshniwal said.

Simpal has built an Android-based POS mobile phone integrated with iris recognition, OctoPOS, in collaboration with Department of Pattern Recognition, University of Beijing. The mobile will have other modes of contactless payments integrated with Visa, MasterCard or RuPay cards.

OctoPOS received certification from UIDAI in May to integrate with the Aadhaar database.

“The merchant inputs Aadhaar number or Aadhaar-linked phone number of the customer in OctoPOS, do a quick retina scan of the customer, and the payment will be made,” explained Toshniwal.

He is aiming to launch the first batch of about 1 million OctoPOS devices in the next six to nine months at a price of $100 each. The devices can also be used for eKYC (know your customer) process by banks and telecom companies as well.

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