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25 Jun 2021

Can digital ID create a more equal world?

At a time when personal identification is fast emerging as a prerequisite for social and economic empowerment, there’s a sizable chunk of the global population that has been left without any means to prove their identity while trying to access the most basic of facilities.

According to the World Bank, an estimated one billion people, over the age of 15, are without an anchor document like a passport, driving licence or national identity card. Approximately 50% of them live in sub-Sahara Africa and the rest in remote areas of the world.

From birth, death, and marriage certificates to property ownership, opening a bank account, getting a job or even a residence permit, the absence of a formal ID limits the ability for those in low-income economies to access critical services including healthcare, education and social housing. Women seem to be the most adversely affected. The World Bank estimates that around 50% females in developing countries are without legal ID.

As attempts are being made to bring the undocumented into the mainstream, the shift towards digital ID, could prove to be a gamechanger. There are many advantages of such a system. Unlike paper documents, a digital ID can be remotely authenticated. It could lead to greater transparency, efficiency and have robust mechanisms in place for better data privacy and security. Finally, with the mass proliferation of smartphones, it has a readily available platform for deployment.  

To unlock the true potential of digital IDs, governments must work with communication service providers (CSPs) to put in place a strategy that achieves the desired results. Operators will be vital to the implementation of a program of this nature due to their skills and experience in managing mass registrations and processing sensitive data. CSPs have much to gain as well since digital ID opens new avenues for growth and revenue generation.

Read the article to know more about how digital IDs can lead to inclusive growth and level the playing field for billions of people.

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