Russia Plans National Biometric Database Starting Next Year
Russia will get a country-wide biometric database for financial services starting next summer, the central bank said.
The system will expand access to banking by letting people open accounts without having to visit a branch and is a key milestone in digitizing financial services, the Bank of Russia said in a statement. The regulator said that data would only be stored with individuals’ consent. Legal changes needed for the system passed this month.
Moscow claims it has the largest centralized surveillance network in the world, and uses facial-recognition technology to help police the city. Sberbank PJSC, the state-owned lender that holds nearly half of retail deposits in Russia, last month acquired a 25% stake in VisionLabs as a first step toward building a biometric platform to identify people through face, voice and retina recognition technologies.
Rostelecom’s board chairman is Sergei Ivanov, a former KGB agent who was President Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff until last year and is currently among those sanctioned by the U.S. for Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
The law will take effect six months after it is officially published. The database could also be expanded for use by microfinance organizations and government services, the central bank said.