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Recently, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has rolled out an in-house Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) technology-based Finger Minutiae Record – Finger Image Record (FMR-FIR) modality.

About: The FMR-FIR modality is an advanced AI/ML-based technology developed by the UIDAI to bolster security measures within the Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS).

Key Features and Functionality:

  • Hybrid Authentication: FMR-FIR combines the analysis of two distinct components – finger minutiae and finger image – to establish the authenticity of fingerprint biometrics during Aadhaar authentication.
  • Liveness Detection: The modality's primary function lies in assessing the liveness of the captured fingerprint. It can differentiate between a genuine, "live" finger and a cloned or fake fingerprint, thereby preventing spoofing attempts.
  • Real-time Verification: FMR-FIR operates in real-time, providing instant verification results during the authentication process.
  • Robust Fraud Prevention: By detecting and deterring the use of cloned fingerprints, the technology significantly reduces the risk of AePS frauds.

Rationale and Implementation:

Addressing Emerging Threats: The emergence of fraudulent activities involving cloned fingerprints necessitated the development of a sophisticated solution to safeguard AePS transactions. Payment-related frauds have surged in India, with over 700,000 reported in FY21. The figures dramatically escalated to nearly 20 million in FY23, according to data from supervised entities of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).While many cases go unreported due to limited awareness about cyber frauds, instances of financial frauds remain significant.

Silicone-based Fraud: Instances of unauthorized money transfers through fake fingerprints created using silicone prompted the need for a more secure and technologically advanced approach.

Integration of AI/ML: The integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies enhances the accuracy and effectiveness of fingerprint authentication.

Advantages and Implications: UIDAI's FMR-FIR technology bolsters security, mitigates vulnerabilities, boosts transaction confidence, and exemplifies technological innovation for societal welfare.

What is the Unique Identification Authority of India?

Statutory Authority: The UIDAI is a statutory authority established on 12th July 2016 by the Government of India under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, following the provisions of the Aadhaar Act 2016. The UIDAI was initially set up by the Government of India in January 2009, as an attached office under the aegis of the Planning Commission.

Mandate: The UIDAI is mandated to assign a 12-digit unique identification (UID) number (Aadhaar) to all the residents of India. As of 31st October 2021, UIDAI had issued 131.68 crore Aadhaar numbers.

What is AePS?

  • The AePS is a bank-led model that allows online interoperable financial transactions at Point of Sale (PoS) or micro-ATMs through the Business Correspondent (BC) of any bank using the Aadhaar authentication.
  • It was taken up by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) - a joint initiative of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA).
  • The AePS is meant to provide easy and secure access to banking services for the poor and marginalized sections of society, especially in rural and remote areas.
  • It eliminates the need for OTPs, bank account details, and other financial information.
  • Transactions can be carried out with only the bank name, Aadhaar number, and captured fingerprint during Aadhaar enrollment.