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India lets banks use face recognition, iris scan for some transactions: Sources

The Indian government is allowing banks to verify individual transactions that exceed a certain annual limit using facial recognition and an iris scan in some cases, in a bid to reduce fraud and tax evasion, three sources told Reuters.

A few large private and public banks have begun using the option, said one of the sources, a banker, who declined to name the banks. The advisory allowing the verification is not public and has not previously been reported.

The verification is not mandatory and is intended for cases where another government identification card used for tax purposes, the Permanent Account Number (PAN) card, is not shared with banks.

The prospect of banks using facial recognition has concerned some privacy experts.

"This raises substantial privacy concerns especially when India lacks a dedicated law on privacy, cybersecurity and facial recognition," said Pavan Duggal, an advocate and cyber law expert.

The government has said it is targeting parliamentary approval of a new privacy law by early 2023.

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