New Delhi, October 13: Nandan Nilekani, the first chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that implemented the Aadhaar project has said that the Aadhaar card scheme has helped Indian government save USD 9 billion. Aadhaar architect- Nilekani said the Aadhaar scheme, that has enrolled more than 1 billion people, has helped the exchequer save about USD 9 billion by eliminating fraud in beneficiary lists. India is the only country in the world where a billion people can do completely paperless, cashless transactions on their mobile phones using this infrastructure which dramatically reduces costs.

62-year-old non-executive chairman of Infosys which is India’s second-largest software services firm said that the Aadhaar system that was launched by the previous UPA government has been “enthusiastically” supported by the current government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. While participating in a World Bank panel discussion on Digital Economy for Development on Thursday said that it is easier for the developing countries to leapfrog by building a right digital infrastructure.

“In the new world of data economy, identity authentication, frictionless payments, paperless transactions these are all very important layers of the new digital economy. That is what India has done, Nilekani said. “Once you bring cost down, automatically inclusion happens,” Nilekani said, adding that there is a fundamental strategic way of looking at it. Now it is very clear that date is where the action is, he said.

Talking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, Nilekani said the Aadhaar system has saved the government about USD 9 billion in fraud and wastage because by having that unique number you eliminate fakes and duplicates from your beneficiary and employee list.  “We have about half a billion people who have connected their ID directly to a bank account. The government has transferred about USD 12 billion into bank accounts electronically in real time to the world’s largest cash transfer system. There are many many things like that”, Nilekani was quoted by PTI. He further added saying, “I’m a big believer that if you build the right digital infrastructure then you can leapfrog”.

Nilekani said that the infrastructure that India has created enables every individual to use his or her data for their advancement, which is fundamental. Herein an individual used data for their personal advancement. “There is a fundamental inversion happening of the way we think of data, which is unique,” he said.

UIDAI was created with the objective to issue Unique Identification numbers (UID), named as “Aadhaar”, to all residents of India that is (a) robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities, and (b) can be verified and authenticated in an easy, cost-effective way. The first UID number was issued on 29 September 2010 to a resident of Nandurbar, Maharashtra. The Authority has so far issued more than 111 crore Aadhaar numbers to the residents of India.