India’s Unique Identification project will open up and publish its API (Application Programming Interface) to allow third party applications the ability to authenticate the identity of citizens, Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said today at the India Telecom conference organized by FICCI and India’s Department of Telecom. “We’ll provide online authentication infrastructure, which will allow us to create a platform for innovation. So, you can create your own applications – mobile banking, mobile commerce, education, health, VAS applications, and so forth,” he said.

Nilekani added that the UIDAI is talking to mobile companies, insurance companies, banks, passport offices, Income tax departments – every player that has an identity requirement. The authority intends to host 2-3 “lighthouse” projects to demonstrate how the UID can be used for applications.

“We’re Banking On The Telecom Industry”

“We are going to create apps which will need connectivity: Our whole assumption is that these are online systems, mobile based – it assumes ubiquitous connectivity throughout the country. We are banking on the Telecom Industry to deliver on the promise of connectivity,” he said. The UID data will be accessible to authenticating applications through telecom networks.

The Unique ID Project, which proposes to give each citizen of India a unique identification number, has its head office in Delhi, and plans to have a technology center in Bangalore, 8 regional centers, each working with 3-4 state governments. Nilekani said that they will issue the first set of numbers in 18 months, in 2012, and plan to have 600 million people enrolled in the next five and a half years.

Note: Nilekani said that they have a complete architecture document on the UIDAI website. Download it here. Thanks for the link Uday.