Presidential candidates should continue to publicly discuss how eKTP cards can improve Indonesian’s lives.

By Donald McFarland

JAKARTA – Having completed three of the scheduled five presidential debates, both candidates – Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto – have clearly embraced e-governance as an important part of Indonesia’s future. Noticing this trend, Joshua Chambers, Editor of FutureGov.Asia, recently enthused about “Indonesia’s early embrace of open government, and its current Presidential candidates debating approaches to e-government just last week (surely a first for any election debate!).”

But while both candidates have been agreeing with each other, very little has been said about how to implement practical e-governance policies.

One tactical and practical solution to facilitate widespread e-governance opportunities would be to fully utilize Indonesia’s eKTP national identity card. Launched in 2011, the eKTP card contains two biometric identifiers – facial images and fingerprints, and the system adds support for iris – unique to every individual. To date 147 million eKTP cards have been issued, thereby giving every adult Indonesian a single identity card capable of being swiped or scanned to facilitate any number of government or commercial services.

Voting, health care services, fuel subsidies, social security and tax payments can all be tied to one identity card. Currently, the average Indonesian carries a frustrating array of identity cards tied to various different services.

By fully utilizing the biometric eKTP card, Indonesia can deploy a powerful tool to expand e-governance programs that can save money, combat corruption and streamline the delivery of services to our people. And most importantly: Improve people’s lives.

Planet Biometrics has called Indonesia’s eKTP program, “One of the biometric industry’s most exciting projects – the roll out of biometric-based smart ID cards in Indonesia – is making stunning progress…” The 147 million-person biometric-ID program is overseen by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which has worked in conjunction with numerous private sector technology firms to bring this program to successful fruition.

The next President of Indonesia, regardless of whether it is Joko Widodo or Prabowo Subianto, will face numerous, complicated challenges that can be resolved with implementation of the eKTP card:

  • Indonesia is embarking on it’s new National Health Care plan, expected to be the largest in the world (goal of 247 million insured by 2019);
  • Numerous calls for e-voting implementation by 2019 (139 million voted in the April 2014 elections);
  • Reforming the annual $20 billion fuel subsidy program.

The eKTP biometric card is a tactical and practical tool to help Indonesia’s next administration drive these herculean reforms. What is needed now is the leadership to break down government “silos” and require eKTP’s expanded usage as we move forward.

Asia, as a region, is leading the way on e-governance. But as FutureGov.Asia aptly pointed out, “The main political challenge of the next decade will be fixing government.’’

Indonesia has the tools to fix government with eKTP, and is perfectly poised to lead the way on e-governance globally. Hopefully our presidential contenders will recognize and embrace the transformative power of these tools.


BIOMORF LOGODonald McFarland serves as Communications Director for Biomorf Lone Indonesia, a leading provider of custom identity management solutions based on a modern identity infrastructure with extensive experience in multimodal biometrics and system integration. Biomorf provided the multi-modal biometric technology for Indonesia’s new eKTP card.

Twitter: @BiOMORFindo