adhaar has the potential to be integrated into the greater financial network of India, garnering the benefits of inexpensive credit that can only be achieved by people who have proven themselves to be creditworthy. But there’s still work to be done before this can be successful.

Aadhaar, A 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), is getting serious. Since the first Aadhar was issued in 2010, the initiative has grown to include nearly 90 percent of Indians, including 99 percent of adults over eighteen years of age. Linked to demographic and biometric data as well a person’s financial institutions and accounts it has been heralded as the most sophisticated identification system on the planet. Though not without critics, namely people and organizations concerned about security and the possibility of big-brother-style government surveillance, the Aadhaar program has been championed by top World Bank chief economist Paul Romer, the United Nations, and the International Monetary Fund.