By Raul Diego
A new biometric identity platform that combines COVID-19 vaccinations, a cashless payment system and a possible law enforcement application is to be launched in West Africa.
The system is capable of providing biometric identity in areas withoiut connection to the internet or mobile phone access.
It also does not require an individual’s legal name or identity and is set to be introduced in “low-income, remote communities” in West Africa once a vaccine is found.
The partnership marks a novel combination of a biometric digital identity system, vaccination records, and a payment system into a single platform.
The effort, since its launch nearly two years ago, has been funded with £3 million donor funds matched funded with a donation by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In early June, the vaccine alliance, GAVI, reported that Mastercard’s Wellness Pass program would be adapted in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A month later, Mastercard announced that the Trust Stamp’s biometric identity platform would be integrated into its Wellness Pass.
The push to implement biometrics as part of national ID registration systems has been ongoing for many years on the continent and has become a highly politicised issue in several African countries because of costs involved.
The GAVI alliance, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, governments and the vaccine industry, is principally concerned with improving “the health of markets for vaccines,” rather than the health of individuals, according to its own website.
Similarly, Mastercard’s GAVI partnership is directly linked to its “World Beyond Cash” aim to see a decline in the use of cash.
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