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Made For India: Microsoft Skype Lite Gets Aadhaar Integration

05 Jul, 2017
Made for India Microsoft Skype Lite gets Aadhaar integration

Microsoft’s Skype Lite recently received an update, the main calling card of which its integration with Aadhaar. The intent seems to be to enable Skype’s users verify each other’s identities in the virtual world and to make interactions be more secure.

For the benefit of our international readers, Aadhaar is an individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It serves as a proof of identity anywhere in the country, akin to the Social Security Number in the U.S.

Aadhaar is considered to be the world’s largest national identification number project and allows users in India to communicate with government, business, and others with a higher level of trust and lower potential for fraud. With the latest version of Skype Lite, Aadhaar integration can be used to verify user identities online, helping them communicate more securely with others“, the company shared in a statement.

Skype Lite, as the name suggests, is a “light” version of the prominent video calling application. The custom-build for India also includes an advanced algorithm that is optimised to consume less Internet Data during video communication. The functionality is particularly important as a considerable portion of the users rely on Mobile Data to access the application; and where mobile coverage quality is not yet a fully reliable.

Available only for Android users currently, the app has seen close to five million downloads on the Google Play Store in just four months since its launch in February 2017,

The integration with Aadhaar comes as a bid to enhance the security on the app and is perhaps an implied nod in the direction of payment-integration within Skype in the future.

To confirm a user’s identity using Aadhaar, you need to click on “Verify Aadhaar Identity“, enter your 12-digit Aadhaar number and then authenticate with a one-time password sent via an SMS. Once your identity has been validated, you can choose to share pre-selected Aadhaar information with the other person, to assure them of your identity.
For example, you may wish to make a Skype Lite call to an important business client or government representative. By using Aadhaar, both parties can verify their identity at the beginning of the call to prevent impersonation fraud, allowing people to conduct business via digital means with more trust.

Microsoft has also assured users that it does not save or pry into your Aadhaar information shared by the users, stating that all such personal information, quite like your conversation, is encrypted.

In addition to the Aadhaar integration, the app comes with other India-centric features:

  • The app is available in seven Indian languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
  • In addition to video calling, users can also send SMS, share photos, files and emoticons.
  • Users can now use bots to search for news, summarize web pages, play games, and can also keep a tab on Data usage (again an important feature for the cost-conscious Indian mindset)

From the looks of it, Microsoft is leaning into the Indian market with a purpose, and customizing their offerings to become attractive to Indians by responding to their implicitly psychological and usability demands. This is a move that might help Microsoft gain some much-needed traction in India. Their computer software is used widely, however in pirated versions, so even though they are a household name in the country, they don’t quite get to take the popularity to the bank. They might, now.