The Aadhar-issuing body Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has postponed the introduction of face recognition feature for authentication by one month to August 1 to get enough time to prepare for a smooth rollout.
UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan told a leading press agency that some more time is needed to prepare for the rollout of the new feature which was earlier planned to go live from July 1.
The authority in charge of the national identity system had earlier announced it will include face recognition alongside iris or fingerprint scan as a tool to verify users, helping those who get troubled due to worn-out fingerprints or other means of authentication.
"We are working on that. From August 1, we should be able to do it. All this is technology, and while we target a date this is not something as if we are buying things off-the-shelf. These things are being developed...," Pandey said.
The UIDAI wants to be fully prepared, he said adding, "We are trying our best to have this released from August 1".
The UIDAI had said that face authentication would be allowed "only in fusion mode" meaning along with either fingerprint or iris or OTP (one-time password) to verify the details of Aadhaar user.
The new feature will help people who face difficulties due to old age, hard work or worn-out fingers.
"From August 1, it will be available to user agencies. We will then watch how it performs in the field...If more tuning or adjustment is required, we will do that and in the next few months, this whole process should get stabilised. We will then make it applicable across all our users," Pandey added.
Asked if there will be a cut-off date for all authentication agencies to have the new facility in place, Pandey said specifying a definite timeframe could be difficult.
"It is a step in a new direction. It is something unprecedented ... Even if we want to do it as early as possible, it is difficult to specify a definite timeframe," he said.
The UIDAI chief emphasised that additional time taken to make the new system operational would, by no way, inconvenience Aadhaar holders given that exception handling mechanism is already in place.
"Even if it takes a few more months, it is not as if people are being denied benefits in its absence. As long as we have an exception handling mechanism, it will ensure that anyone with fingerprint authentication difficulty or failure will be provided alternate means and given the benefits...," he said.
The UIDAI had earlier announced that it will work with biometric device providers to integrate face modality to the registered devices in order to facilitate the new authentication service.
It will also line up Software Development Kits that will have the ability to capture face image, check liveness, and create digitally signed and encrypted authentication input.
So far, 121.17 crore residents have been enrolled for Aadhaar card and has been used for 19.6 billion authentications.