The Promise and Peril of Biometrics with Sebastian Manhart and Simprints


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Sebastian Manhart has recently concluded his role as COO of Simprints. Simprints is the world's only nonprofit biometrics company focused on the last mile. He now works as an Advisor on Digital Identity for the German Federal Chancellery, the World Bank, and ID2020.

In this conversation, Sebastian reflects on the eventful six years that he spent at Simprints. It began as a bunch of scrappy young kids studying in Cambridge, with an idea. Over the years, this morphed into the organization it is today, which has reached well over a million people in 12 countries. We cover the ups and downs, the believers and naysayers, and the risks and successes along the way. In parallel with this story we also learn about the rise and popularization of digital identity in the aid sector.

In the second half of our conversation, Sebastian and I dive into the nuanced and tricky issues surrounding digital ID. How do we strike the balance between the work of institutions and the needs and rights of individuals? How have the currents of change shaped the way that this technology was introduced, and how it's being taken up? In closing, we point to some of the key challenges that remain as well as possible approaches to address those challenges.

To find out more, access the show notes at

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