Skype Lite integrates Aadhaar, India’s unique ID for citizens; here’s how it works

Abhishek Baxi

In a first, the Skype Lite app integrates with Aadhaar, the cloud-connected national identification program of India. Introduced in 2009, Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique-identity number issued to an Indian resident based on their biometric and demographic data. The data is collected by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a central government agency of India.

Earlier today during his keynote at the Future Decoded event, Satya Nadella announced the launch of Skype Lite for low-end Android smartphones with an aim to offer a lightweight, data-friendly messaging, sharing, and calling experience.

While several services, especially in banking sector, are increasingly adopting Aadhaar for verifying identities, this is the first attempt by a company of Microsoft’ scale to allow for consenting individuals verify identities in-app using Aadhaar. While the unique ID project is hailed as the largest identification program in the world, there are several privacy concerns around which haven’t been allayed as yet by the government authorities. Microsoft guarantees that all Aadhaar information is deleted once the call is completed.

How it works?

One of the individuals in a Skype call, can request for Aadhaar verification, and the other person is required to punch in his or her Aadhaar number followed by one-time password (OTP) to verify the identity. Skype Lite does not support biometric authentication at the moment. Once this is done, the other person receives an update that the individual’s identity is ‘verified’. All this happens while the call is on without any hops to the Aadhaar website or anything similar in a seamless fashion.

This can be potentially used by an interviewer to verify the identity of a potential job candidate, as was showcased in the demo during the launch.

While Skype Lite is available in beta from the Google Play Store already, the Aadhaar in-app authentication feature will be available by June 2017.