Karnataka Bank Ltd. on Oct. 20 became the latest bank in India to launch a biometric smart card for cash withdrawals, according to the Bangalore-based bank.

In a statement, the bank says it launched the card in two rural districts of the state under its financial-inclusion program, which was created to enable unbanked rural citizens to access basic banking functions.

To obtain a card, villagers must be registered under the minimum employment guarantee scheme and the social security pension program, and they must provide proof of residency for more than one year. To use the card, villagers in the two districts must meet with one of the bank’s business correspondents, who travel between villages on a regular basis, a spokesperson for the bank tells PaymentsSource.

“These correspondents carry a handheld machine, where the villager will have to swipe the card and authenticate the withdrawal using his fingerprint impression,” she says. “After authentication and approval, the correspondent will give him the cash.”

There are no withdrawal limts, and the card cannot be used for payments.

In June, Purvanchal Gramin Bank also began issuing similar biometric cards to villagers in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (see story). And Rushikulya Gramya Bank in April launched its own card in the Indian state of Orissa (see story).

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