Zwipe partners with Malaysia’s IRIS on government ID technology

Zwipe is looking to bring new national identity and payment technologies to the Asian market through a recent partnership with a Malaysian digital ID firm.

According to a letter of intent signed last month, Norwegian biometrics firm Zwipe and Malaysia’s IRIS Corporation Bherhad, in conjunction with Kuala Lumpur-based chip maker MCS Microsystems, will collaborate to build and deploy multi-application smart card projects both within the Southeast Asian region and to other markets abroad.

“We are looking to work with Zwipe to merge finance and ID together,” said IRIS co-founder and technical adviser Chas Yap in a press release. “This synergistic partnership aims to integrate Zwipe’s core technology with IRIS’s expertise in smart card manufacturing to create competitive and innovative payment cards and government ID solutions not just here in Southeast Asia but globally.”

This joint venture emerged just days after Zwipe held the first public demonstrations of its biometric payment card technology in Singapore.

IRIS was an early mover in national ID and e-passport systems. In 2001, it coordinated with the Malaysian government to launch the MyKAD identification card, the world’s first national multipurpose smart card.

“IRIS is a global player for ID solutions and has deployed millions of cards for government and institutional projects worldwide. We are excited about the partnership with IRIS and the opportunity they represent both within Payments and Government ID,” said Zwipe CEO Kim Humborstad.

While the agreement does not specify the nature of products under development, this partnership is in line with a broader regional trend toward integrating national identity data in financial services. Earlier this year, Singapore announced a new e-KYC system allowing customers to open bank accounts using identity data from a government verification platform, for example. India is also offering a series of open program interfaces so banks and other financial institutions can leverage the country’s robust national identity system to streamline customer onboarding and authentication.

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Kaelyn Lowmaster is an Asia-focused Market Analytics and Research Associate with One World Identity. Prior to joining OWI, she worked in the Army's International Affairs Division at the Pentagon, and coordinated Johns Hopkins' graduate programs in Nanjing, China. Kaelyn holds an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a graduate certificate from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, and a BA from Colgate University. She is currently based in Tokyo.