Use of Digital ID for Delivery of Welfare

Centre for Internet & Society, Digital Identities Project

29 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2020

Date Written: July 1, 2020


This case study analyses the use of digital identity in the delivery of welfare by states. One of the key stated purposes of modern national digital identity systems is to deliver socio-economic welfare benefits by preventing the capture of these benefits. The idea is to ensure that scarce public resources are not dissipated by the diversion of resources to persons who do not qualify as recipients. This is attempted to be achieved through the use of Digital ID systems and the process of seeding, authentication, de-duplication and biometric matching. These forms of verification necessarily involve excluding frauds and duplicands from the system. In cases where the digital identity system does not work in the way intended, there are clear exclusionary impacts of such uses, since welfare benefits may be denied to those who are unable to successfully authenticate their digital ID. We evaluate the use of digital identity systems in Kenya, India, and Estonia for the purpose of delivery of welfare across jurisdictions. The digital ID in Kenya are the Huduma card and the Huduma Namba, that, along with the National Integrated Identity Management System (“NIIMS”) database form part of the NIIMS, which operates as a single source of personal identification for citizens and persons resident in Kenya. The Huduma Bill was introduced in July 2019, in the backdrop of petitions challenging the provisions of the Statute Miscellaneous (Amendment) Act of 2018, which amended the Registration of Persons Act to create NIIMS and authorise the collection of DNA and GPS data. The Huduma Bill, 2019 seeks to repeal the Registration of Persons Act. The digital ID in India is the Aadhaar number, which is governed under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits, and Services) Act, 2016 (“Aadhaar Act”). In Estonia, digital identity cards are governed, inter alia, by the Identity Documents Act, 2000 and the Population Register Act.

Keywords: digital identity, Aadhaar, Huduma, Huduma Namba, good governance, welfare, biometric, Kenya, India, Estonia, authentication

JEL Classification: K1, Z18, I3, I31, I38

Suggested Citation

Bhandari, Vrinda, Use of Digital ID for Delivery of Welfare (July 1, 2020). Centre for Internet & Society, Digital Identities Project, Available at SSRN: or

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