Behind Nagarik, Nepal’s New Biometric E-Government App - Identity Review - Identity Review | #1 Digital Identity Reviews & News

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Nepal (MoCIT) has announced its national services app, Nagarik, which will provide access to over 40 government entities on a single platform. The app is currently in beta testing and follows the drop of a new biometric identity card in the Himalayan country.

The Card

Preceding Nagarik, Nepal plans to replace its existing identity card for a new face and fingerprint-based biometrics verification card to provide access to a host of government services. Nepal planned to issue 10 million biometric ID cards by the end of the fiscal year in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has thrown a wrench into Nepal’s efforts to collect the biometric data of its citizens.

Biometric collection originally began in urban areas, but in Kathmandu, the biometrics program was halted in mid-October and is expected to be postponed for at least two more months. It is unclear if the program has started again in cities. Collection has continued in rural areas, where COVID-19 infection rates are lower.

The Application

MoCIT now has data on over 21.5 million citizens thanks to adjacent efforts from the Ministry of Home Affairs, PAN and passport registration records, which provided citizenship data, and Nepal’s Election Commission server, which provided fingerprint biometrics and facial photos. These unique data points encourage transparency, according to MoCIT, and save citizens’ time in the process.

“Since it is a beta version, the app will provide only around 50 percent services at the moment,” Communications Minister Parbat Gurung told BiometricUpdate. “All the decentralized services that are now provided by the local governments to the citizens can also be availed through this app.”

Gurung’s team is working on including more services on the app, including a feature of one’s driver’s license and passport, within the next three months. Thus far, Nagarik’s notable services are access to PAN Registration, Educational Documents, Local Government Information, Citizen Investment Trust and Employees Provident Fund.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Olivia Baker is a Tech Innovation Fellow at Identity Review from Columbia University, where she writes on tech policy and national digital identity technologies.

Contact Olivia Baker at olivia@identityreview.com.

Do you have information to share with Identity Review? Email us at press@identityreview.com.

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