Speaking at the sidelines of a Microsoft conference taking place in Bengaluru, Microsoft India Chairman Bhaskar Pramanik outlined the company's plans to build Aadhaar-enabled products for the Digital India initiative and shared that Microsoft has showcased some of these products to the Government of India, including to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, though he could not disclose the specific projects as of now.
Pramanik was speaking in the context of work being done by Microsoft Research, and by Microsoft India R&D, and while talking about how researchers can build intelligence through gathering data, touched upon the value of Aadhaar as a means to gather large quantities of data without infringing on user privacy. What's more, Pramanik added that this is something that is not just a prototype, but already embedded with Skype and ready to be applied.
"Think about an Aadhaar-embedded Skype," said Pramanik, "where you use the Aadhaar to verify your identity. Right now you verify your ID using IOTP (a one time password) but it could be verified using your iris, for example."
"Now, this can be used in a number of scenarios, to build G2C [government to citizen] programmes," Pramanik continued. "For example, there's a bank that is delivering pension. Right now, to prove that you're still alive, you have to physically visit the bank, and then they give you a certificate. With an Aadhaar enabled Skype, we could do it from home."
Pramanik went on to detail a couple of other scenarios where Aadhaar enablement with Skype could be used for government programmes. "There are other scenarios around the judicial space," he said, "or going to the registrar's office just to sign off on a document. We're very actively looking for all areas where this can be applied and Microsoft is very much in support of Aadhaar enabled programmes."
Sundar Srinivasan, General Manager, STC Engineering, added to this, and said that Aadhaar-enabled Skype is a means to eliminate physical presence. "Aadhaar verifies identity, so now we are looking for ways it can eliminate presence," he said, adding, "Aadhaar plus Skype is a very powerful proposition."
Asked about the reported recent meeting between the UIDAI and device makers, Pramanik added that while Microsoft was not present at this meeting, Microsoft supports the idea. He also confirmed that Microsoft does not have any ongoing projects with the NPCI for the UPI rollout, but added that Microsoft is open to working with the agency as well