Everyone needs to prove their identity — be it to open a bank account, apply for a job or to buy age-restricted items, among others. Yet some cant afford or access ID documents — leaving them overlooked, socially excluded and left behind…writes Madhu Nori
We live in a digital society, but the way we prove our identity is outdated — still relying on paper documents. The time has come for secure, verified digital identities, which are voluntary and under the individual’s control.
* Securely connect with the government and public sector
Digital identities give people a simpler and safer way to prove who they are, online and in person.
Governments can transition services online, offering greater choice and convenience for citizens, who can access digital services on the go and from their own homes. The government can be confident the right person is involved in the transaction without having to ask for formal documentation – removing the burden on public sector employees to manually check identity documents and mitigating the risk of entering incorrect information.
Governments, including those of the UK, Canada, Estonia and Jamaica have started a digital identity program or are in the process of adopting it due to the benefits involved. India’s Aadhaar has already helped to eliminate duplications and fake beneficiaries for government benefits, helping to save Rs 12,000 crore in food subsidies every year.
The States of Jersey’s selected digital ID provider will allow citizens to access government services and engage with local businesses with one app on their phone. This provides a robust, ready-made identity solution without the high costs of developing and implementing traditional biometric enrolment systems. The government can build more online services, helping to create an efficient and responsive public sector.
Scotland’s Improvement Service, a government agency that aims to improve the efficiency, quality and accountability of local public services, is working with a digital identity company to help transform local and regional services. Scottish residents will have an easier way of proving their age and entitlement to access a wide range of services, rewards and discounts using an app on their phone.
If governments can securely put more services online, more people can take part in society and access essential services such as healthcare, education and finance. This is already a reality in India with Aadhaar, where individuals can open a bank account without needing multiple ID documents.
* Safer nights out and instant identity checks
Once individuals have created their digital identity they can use this to prove in seconds who they are. This could be to get into a nightclub, to buy age-restricted goods or to pass KYC requirements. A key parameter that governments are considering when selecting digital identity partners is their potential for wider use beyond government services. In Jersey, citizens can use their digital identity at nightclubs.
* Safer online encounters and stronger security
We can meet life partners through dating websites, buy and sell items from strangers on classified sites and rent holiday accommodation through sharing economy platforms. Unfortunately this has created opportunities for fraudsters, who can hide behind fake profiles and trick innocent people. With a single, digital identity and verified details, the misuse of these online platforms can be quashed. There will be greater trust online, as individuals know the true identity of the people they’re meeting.
As more of our lives are spent online, the way we access websites also becomes increasingly important. Convenience often trumps security – over 50 per cent of Indians reuse passwords for different websites. We’re putting our online accounts at risk – hackers only need to crack one password and they can unlock a treasure trove of personal information, making us vulnerable to identity theft. Digital identities are the solution — they give people a secure, private and easy way to log into websites.
In a world driven by digital connections, it’s time the way we prove our identity caught up.