Biometric identification still far off for Kazakhstan’s financial sector

In Kazakhstan, biometrics as an identification tool is still a far-away dream. Currently, the existing state database of citizens is being used for biometrics in the country. Although 11 financial institutions have connected the database, only 3 are actively testing the system’s biometric identification capabilities. And even within those 3 institutions, testing is only happening with employees and not with consumers. 

All 3 financial institutions have encountered issues during testing that have dampened optimism for shorter-term implementation. These issues include technology-related issues as well as regulatory ones. These issues, as well as those that appeared in Russia’s Unified Biometric System (EBS), have caused Kazakhstani players to proceed with caution. Financial institutions in Kazakhstan are also concerned regarding the cost of implementing such systems. For example, Russia’s EBS cost USD 3.8 million to create, and another USD 22.8 million is expected to be spent on further developing it over the next 5 years. Beyond that, there are also costs associated with maintaining and connecting to the system.

While biometrics is widely seen as a step to greatly reducing fraud and increasing financial security, it is clear that much work remains to be done in order to get to a point where such a system is reliable and effective.