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Emerging technologies such as digital payments, biometric ID, and blockchain hold great promise but also pose challenges in certain areas, including privacy and data security. CGD research brings a clear-eyed view to key questions facing technologists and development practitioners: what is the realistic potential of blockchain to deliver aid money more speedily and securely? Or to help people access their rights? Our work on India’s biometric payments system Aadhaar asks how it is transforming a billion Indian lives, and how might the technology help other developing countries interested in expanding the digital economy.