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While a national ID was a key component of HSNP enrolment, payment required a means of authenticating identity that was considered suitably secure and reliable.
Instead of biometrics, the HSNP could have adopted personal identification numbers (PINs), like those used in debit card transactions around the world.
There were two key attributes of biometric identification that HSNP officials found compelling in their quest for "a reasonable level of assurance".
Almost universally, when I would ask why not use PIN authentication in the HSNP, I was told it was because recipients were 'illiterate'.
Neither conception is prima facie wrong--and at least some HSNP recipients did prefer to not remember a PIN; yet, the belief that illiteracy prohibits PIN authentication is curious.
The HSNP needed to allow beneficiaries to nominate a secondary recipient whose fingerprints would also be accepted for payment.
In addition to its individualizing capacity, fingerprinting has been favored because of its presumed universality; unlike 'literacy' or the capacity to remember a PIN, everyone can present their finger, the HSNP's designers reasoned (cf.
Within the ethnic Somali population in northeast Kenya this was prompted by worries that HSNP was "capturing these details to share with the Americans" or "convert them to Christians".
The international humanitarian organization Oxfam largely conducted enrolment and allowed me to observe their work in 2013 when they were registering beneficiaries for the HSNP's expanded Phase II.
To do so, the HSNP used teams of mobile registrars composed of young Oxfam employees from the region.
More central to their concern was the information technology used to build the administrative and payment systems for the HSNP. While some worked smoothly--fading into the background as functioning infrastructure--others were deeply problematic.
Similar frustrations in the process of infrastructuring cash transfers arose from the computer software used to collect the personal details of the HSNP beneficiaries.
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