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ICAI proposes to introduce biometric smart cards
December, 18th 2006
Reducing paper work

Will help in improving efficiency of attendance system and reduce communication gaps
Will record information about the programme, member details and identification
On swiping, details such as duration and content of the lecture would be added on to the card and updated in member database

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) plans to introduce biometric smart cards for its practising members in India.

This is aimed at reducing paper work related to the institute's Continuing Professional Education (CPE) programme for practising chartered accountants.

Under the CPE programme, members are expected to attend 20 hours of lectures and seminars a year to update their accountancy skills. Over a thousand lectures are conducted every year by the institute (across India) and it is difficult and time-consuming to determine if members have completed their 20-hour quota, said Mr T.N. Manoharan, President, ICAI.

The biometric smart card system will manage attendance for lectures and seminars held as part of the CPE programme. A smart card will record information about the CPE programme, member details and identification including fingerprints, photograph and signature.

Details on the smart card will be synchronised with ICAI's member database and online portal. When a member swipes his card at the location of a lecture, details such as duration and content of the lecture would be added on to the card and also updated in the member database.

Earlier, members would find it difficult to attend sessions in different cities, said Mr Manoharan. Due to communication gap between centres, attendance could not be recorded properly. This led to wrong assessments on the number of hours a candidate had spent under the CPE programme, he said.

About 65,000 smart cards will be issued free of cost to members by January. The institute is in talks with three vendors for supplying the smart cards and declined to divulge the investment in the same. "More than cost cutting, this is a measure to improve efficiency of the attendance system and reduce communication gaps", he said.

The cards are likely to have 2KB or 4KB microprocessor embedded in them so that information could be added in future. The institute also plans to set up an Internet portal that will inform members of their CPE hours and attendance in real time.

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