Zain Cash, UNHCR and IrisGuard deliver aid via iris recognition for Iraqi refugees

Zain Cash, UNHCR and IrisGuard deliver aid via iris recognition for Iraqi refugees

Zain Group is adding a new platform to its Zain Cash mobile finance offering that will allow refugees in Iraq to cash-out their financial assistance via iris identification.

The EyePay Cash program has been developed by Zain Cash in partnership with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and IrisGuard, a UK-based electronic payment solutions company and the leading supplier of end-to-end iris recognition biometric technology, to ensure the highest level of protection against fraud and improved accountability in transferring cash assistance to the beneficiaries of UNHCR.

Currently over 120,000 vulnerable families in Iraq and approximately 30,000 refugees in the country receive cash support via UNHCR, with the agency disbursing over US$60 million through its partners in 2018 alone.

The introduction of iris technology for payment of cash assistance will improve identification accuracy, efficiency and speed as it is the most accurate, fast and secure biometric personal identifier available today. Only the entitled refugee will be able to cash-out without the need for any other identification tools, reducing fraud and allowing the aid to reach its intended recipient.

A streamlined disbursement process will significantly aid UNHCR and other humanitarian organisations in Iraq which are targeting more than 1 million displaced Iraqis and refugees for cash assistance in 2019.

Ayman Gharaibeh, UNHCR Iraq Representative, said: “We have been utilising iris scan technology to facilitate assistance in the MENA region - in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt - and it has proven to be a most effective and efficient channel. Iris scan reinforces the dignity of the beneficiaries ensuring their identity through their iris and thus is fraud free.”

Zain Cash CEO Yazen Altimimi said: “We are steadfast in our desire to play an important role in the socio-economic development of [Iraq], and as such our collaboration with UNHCR and IrisGuard allows us to return greater dignity, privacy and ensure financial inclusion of vulnerable people throughout Iraq, and we expect the streamlined disbursement of critical cash assistance to these in need will have a marked and immediate positive impact on their lives.”

Imad Malhas, Founder and CEO at IrisGuard, commented: “We are delighted to be partnered with Zain Cash and the UNHCR providing a reliable, 100% accurate solution which removes risks, increases beneficiary privacy, improves speed and ultimately ensures that those who need it receive aid faster and in a more secure way.”

By integrating the iris technology in the registration and cash-out of assistance to refugees, the disbursement process is set to become more streamlined and secure and quick in comparison to the previous process which took over 15 days

The on-boarding process for iris biometric capture is fast and simple - the IrisGuard imager captures a greyscale image of the iris, converting it to a reliable and permanent Unique Verifiable Identity (UVI) that is used for cross-matching purposes. IrisGuard’s EyePay Phone is the first of its kind, and capable of authenticating identity on a global scale within 3 seconds. This new smartphone combines IrisGuard’s expertise in iris recognition technology with mobile capability, providing the world’s only ‘one to millions’ iris comparison in real-time.

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