9:30—12:00 PM
Center for Global Development, First Floor Conference Center, 1800 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

Identification and the Biometrics Revolution: Can ID Be Harnessed for Development?

Alan Gelb
Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

Robert Palacios
Pension Team Leader, Social Protection Unit, World Bank

Salil Prabhakar
Founder and CEO, Delta ID Incorporated

Wyly Wade
Founder and CTO, BiON Corporation

Frances Zelazny
Principal, Marketing Strategies at Work

The use of biometric identification technology is growing rapidly in the developing world. It offers the prospect of eliminating the "identity gap" between rich and poor countries, where birth registration lags and many citizens have no official identity. Biometrics now underpins a wide range of developmental applications, including salary payments, social transfers, health insurance, financial access and elections.

A recent CGD working paper, “Identification and Development: The Biometrics Revolution” by Alan Gelb and Julia Clark, analyzes 160 such programs across 72 countries, half of which have been supported by donors. Together these initiatives affect at least 1 billion people. Some have led to innovations in service delivery and greater inclusion. But there are also risks of exclusion, privacy concerns, and problems with effective implementation.

This event will bring together technical and development experts at the forefront of this new technology to discuss the role of identification in development, how biometrics are used in the field, what advances are likely in the future and how they might best be supported by donors, and what changes are needed to make the most of the biometrics revolution.

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