The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has launched the mAadhaar app, which allows users to carry digital versions of their identification profiles on their phones, it was reported.

Users of the app may download their Aadhaar number profiles on their smartphones and will therefore not need to carry the physical cards with them, The Economic Times reported.

The Aadhaar number is a 12-digit random identification number issued by the UIDAI to Indian citizens, which is linked to basic demographic information such as name and date of birth, and biometric information such as fingerprints and iris scans. These data are stored in a centralised biometric ID database.

To use digital services such as opening a bank account, users need to provide their Aadhaar number and place their finger on a scanner, which allows the bank to verify the credentials with the Aadhaar database, Bloomberg reported.

The Aadhaar system has over 1.1 billion citizens enrolled, and is saving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration about US$2 billion a year, according to the Bloomberg report. “The system in India is the most sophisticated that I’ve seen,” World Bank chief economist Paul Romer was quoted as saying. “It’s the basis for all kinds of connections that involve things like financial transactions.”

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