How Digital Identity Is Developing Across the World
As the general population veers more and more in the direction of a digital economy, so have countries begun to make strides towards digital identity. As our current society has evolved in complexity it has created a need for self-sovereignty in identity. Every day we hear stories of big companies getting hacked due to poor security or careless mishandling of data and hundreds of millions of people per year suffer from fraud from security breach. Countries are now taking action to create digital identity to ensure a more efficient and safe place for transactions between parties.
Government-Instituted Identity Initiatives
Sweden has made great strides with its BankID system which launched in 2003 by financial institutions and is now recognized by the government. BankID has been adopted by almost three-quarters of its population and its purpose is to enable digital authentication and signature with limited data sharing for use with public and private sector institutions through a custom smart card or digital devices. A signature made with a BankID is legally binding, according to Swedish law, and within the European Union.
Argentina is following suit recently launching their Digital Identification System, a government initiative, in coordination with the private sector. In July 2018, they integrated a remote biometric authentication with facial recognition across public and private sector services. The validation by face caption can be performed by any device equipped with a camera. The emerging country is currently working on integrating its Digital Identification System into the health sector as well as banking in the future.
Private-Sector Entities Launching Digital Identity Platforms
One of the leading countries in digital identification is Estonia, which launched e-ID, their digital identification system almost two decades ago. A whopping 98% of Estonians have an e-ID card. The country has facilitated authentication, data storage and sharing, and digital signature through its chip-based cards or digital keys. Their e-ID cards offer a wide array and are now embedded to Estonian’s everyday lives. Purposes that extend from using it as a national health insurance card, logging into bank accounts online, online voting, checking medical records, and filing taxes, the e-ID card has increased efficiency on many aspects for Estonians.
India is no different, having launched Aadhaar, their digital identification system in 2009 by a public sector agency which has over a 90% adoption rate at the moment. They’ve enabled biometric authentication as part of broader digital ecosystems with additional functionality. Some of the key use cases for their system includes transfer of benefits to bank accounts, e-KYC, and digital document storage. Everyone with an Aadhaar number is devoid of any intelligence and does not profile people based on their religion, health, and geography. It simply is a proof of identity without interfering with any rights of citizenship.
Potential Long-Term Ramifications of Developing Digital Identities
While Digital Identification would offer lots of solutions to the existing identification problems, technological innovations such as nuclear energy and even GPS may bring problems of different sorts. Without proper controls digital identification systems could allow private sector firms or governments to gain access and control over individuals data. Though a thoughtful system, designed with privacy provisions and well-controlled processes, and established rule of laws would be essential to mitigate those risks.
With the implementation of blockchain technology, decentralization of information storage can dissolve any single point of failure in regards to cyber intrusion or internal fraud.
The long-term ramifications of digital identification could bring the global economy into a strongly connected infrastructure. Digital identification could increase financial inclusion, improved labor market efficiency, time savings, and fraud reduction. Increased financial inclusion would be a significant benefit when associated with consumer interactions. Digital identification can improve labor market efficiency by bridging employers and workers as well as microenterprises and prospective clients.
Metadium’s vision is aligned with this movement, we aspire to create a free world through self-sovereign identity. Some countries are already at the forefront of digital identity as was discussed earlier. With the state of the world economy now is the perfect time to execute a global digital identification infrastructure. More than four billion people in the world currently have access to the internet, and smartphones are becoming more and more affordable. Giving these circumstances and the rise of blockchain technology, it makes for the perfect recipe for an indisputable digital identity infrastructure.