Afghani Government Workers to be Paid Via Biometrics

Mobile CommerceAfghani government employees are going to start receiving their salaries via mobile devices, the country’s first mobile operator has announced. The Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) has embarked on the initiative in a partnership with Maiwand Bank, New Kabul Bank, and the Government of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance.

The new platform is called MyMoney, and was developed with some financial help from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It uses a biometric system that AWCC says “guarantees that only the intended recipient receives the salary payment.” And indeed, that is a major focus of the project: In a press release, AWCC is keen to emphasize not only the ease and convenience of the system, but also government employees’ assurance of security in receiving their salary in a timely and transparent manner.

Moreover, AWCC has indicated that this project is  part of “a broader effort by AWCC, its partner banks and the Government Afghanistan to empower citizens with alternatives to cash, which reduce corruption, improve governance and increase financial and economic security.”

The same kinds of concerns are motivating similar endeavours elsewhere. India, for example, has been pioneering a national biometrics program that involves the delivery of government subsidies straight to recipients, at least in part as an effort to improve transparency and to cut down on graft and corruption. Meanwhile, national banks like the State Bank of Pakistan and the Central Bank of Nigeria have been implementing biometric registries of their customers, which could lead to similar ends as the AWCC’s new system.