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India: Facial Authentication Technology Enhances Pensioner Experience

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The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has revolutionised the submission process for Life Certificates by introducing Facial Authentication Technology, significantly enhancing the ease of living for its more than 78 lakh pensioners. This move aims to simplify the annual requirement of Life Certificate submission for the continuation of pension payments, which previously necessitated physical visits to banks, often causing grievances among the elderly.

EPFO initiated the Digital Life Certificate (DLC) system, accepting certificates based on biometric authentication. Despite the digital shift, pensioners still had to visit banks, post offices, Common Service Centres, or EPFO offices to use fingerprint or iris capture devices for their certificates.

To further ease this process, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) developed Facial Authentication Technology, allowing pensioners to submit their Life Certificates from home. EPFO adopted this technology about two years ago, enabling pensioners to use any Android smartphone to complete the process without needing to travel.

Pensioners can now submit their Life Certificates by scanning their faces using a smartphone camera. This process is authenticated against UIDAI’s Aadhaar database through the UIDAI’s Face Recognition App. Since its implementation, the adoption of Facial Authentication Technology has surged. In 2022-23, 2.1 lakh pensioners submitted their DLCs using this technology, which grew to 6.6 lakh in 2023-24 – a 200% year-on-year increase. This accounted for almost 10% of the total DLCs received in the last financial year, with around 60 lakh DLCs submitted overall.

To utilise this technology, pensioners need to install two applications on their smartphones: “Aadhaar Face RD” and “Jeevan Pramaan.” Operator authentication is conducted through Aadhaar-linked mobile numbers. Detailed guidelines within the apps ensure a successful face scan. Upon completion, the DLC submission is confirmed on the mobile screen along with the Jeevan Pramaan ID and PPO number, making the process seamless from home.

EPFO embedded this innovative method into its software, issuing detailed instructions to all field offices to promote its use among pensioners. The process is regularly explained in field offices and during the Nidhi Apke Nikat program, held in districts across India since January 2023. A comprehensive video tutorial is also available on EPFO’s official YouTube channel @SOCIALEPFO.

EPFO is confident that the convenience offered by Facial Authentication Technology will significantly improve the ease of living for its pensioners, ensuring that more and more individuals can benefit from this hassle-free method of submitting their Digital Life Certificates.

India is leveraging technology to streamline its pension systems, enhancing ease and accessibility for citizens through various initiatives.

The National Pension System has introduced an enhanced method for depositing contributions called Direct Remittance, now made easier with UPI QR codes. The new system also allows for periodical auto-debit payments and systematic investment plans, ensuring a disciplined approach to retirement savings. This initiative aims to make NPS contributions more accessible and efficient, leveraging India’s UPI infrastructure developed under the Digital India initiative.

The Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare has integrated all pension disbursing banks’ portals into the Integrated Pensioners’ Portal to enhance the ease of living for pensioners. Showcased during the Bank of India’s portal launch, the initiative aims to provide convenient access to pension-related services, ensuring transparency and efficiency. It will provide single-window access to various services, such as pension slips and life certificate submission status, ensuring transparency, convenience, and efficiency.

Such moves and initiatives complement existing platforms like the Bhavishya Portal, which digitises the entire pension process and aligns with India’s broader goal of using technology to enhance public service delivery, including through apps like UMANG for mobile access to government services.

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