A decade after the launch of Aadhaar, this webinar looks at a resident’s perspective on India’s national digital ID – in what ways has Aadhaar empowered or excluded them? To what extent do they trust and use the identification system? In which aspects is it serving them well or poorly—or not at all? These are the results of a study by Dalberg that distils insights drawn from two national household surveys and human-centred design research on Aadhaar. Capturing the experiences and perspectives of over 167,000 residents, together these surveys represent the largest public, primary dataset on the use of Aadhaar and, more broadly, digital ID anywhere in the world. Our panellists or this webinar are two of the authors of the report, Dr Priti Rao and Dr Petra Sonderegger.
90% of the population have Aadhaar, which is an impressive 1.2 billion people, many use Aadhaar to access food rations and Government subsidiaries. Looking with a digital finance lens 973 million transactions were completed using the Aadhaar enabled payment system. Aadhaar is deeply embedded in people’s lives and it is vital the user experience is good.
There are still 102 million people without Aadhaar and one of the biggest challenges has been updating Aadhaar due to errors or changing circumstances such as marrying or moving. For many Aadhaar has improved service delivery, for example government welfare programs are more reliable, it is quicker to get a SIM card and opening a bank account is easier. But there are also instances where issues with Aadhaar have led users to become excluded from welfare programs – either failure to have a correct Aadhaar ID or failure with authentication.
There are also concerns around the issue that many see Aadhaar as mandatory, when in fact it is voluntary. The insistence of many service providers for Aadhaar over other forms of ID is one of the factors creating this perception.
It is interesting to know that the vast majority are satisfied with Aadhaar, listing benefits as everyone accepts it, it makes accessing services easier and there is less requirement to carry lots of paperwork. The challenges they identity are the exact opposites of the benefits there are too many services linked, challenges with Aadhaar mean you can lose access to services and it is inconvenient to carry the card all the time. The most vulnerable are the ones who really need Aadhaar to work for them and there is encouragement that it has given them access to services they previously have not been able to access.