Digital technology is flipping the world of identity upside down. That’s why governments and organizations around the world are setting goals and establishing frameworks for rolling out comprehensive digital identity systems. Some have a long way to go, some are closing in and a few others are basically there. Fortunately, the digital identity ecosystem offers new solutions to help meet their needs.
The bottom line is this: the future of identity is digital. So which countries and organizations are leading the charge? And what are the implications for the rest of the world? The prospects are both transformative and inspiring.
Digital Global Snapshot
Countries around the world, as well as businesses and other large organizations with digital identification requirements, are looking to execute and deliver on digital ID plans. One of the most far-reaching examples began in 2014. That’s when member countries of the European Union set out digital ID regulations in the Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Services (eIDAS), building a framework for a unified digital ID system across the EU.
Within the EU itself, Estonia has emerged as a leader in the digital identity space. Every Estonian has a state-issued digital identity, allowing citizens to easily authenticate themselves for online services without paper documentation or a physical interaction.
And just recently, the Australian government launched a new framework for digital identification that will have sweeping implications across the country. Adapting and streamlining the way digital engagements are handled, this framework could be a digital beacon for the rest of the world.
The Plan Down Under
The Australian government set about their framework to inform and guide a new national system of digital identity. Lead by the aptly named Digital Transformation Agency, the framework has been designed to address the needs of an increasingly digital society with usability, accessibility, security, privacy, fraud prevention and risk management at its core.
Generally, the goal is to lay out a roadmap for a digital identity system for all Australians, recognizing the needs and concerns of the digital age. It also aims to set standards for any organization requiring digital identification to access online information or services. To ensure a robust and secure path forward, the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF) was created in consultation with the financial sector, digital identity experts, privacy advocates and the public.
Simplifying Digital ID
Currently, the Australian system for accessing online government services is not particularly efficient. Citizens require multiple accounts, logins and passwords and that can readily complicate and confuse matters. The system proposed in the new framework aims to streamline and simplify things with efficiency and greater public service as the obvious benefits. Essentially, a user should only have to prove their identity online one time, with that digital ID granting access to multiple services across any part of the government.
The Australian government is aware of some of the other challenges faced by its citizens when it comes to engaging with the government in a digital way. The framework is looking to address a few of those issues. First off, the framework explores ways to remove the barriers for people lacking proper documentation, particularly for those needing to create an online or digital identity. Not everyone has a digital presence and that will need to be addressed.
Likewise, corporate and business entities also have relationships and engagements with the government. The framework is offering ideas and solutions to simplify dealings between businesses and government.
While Australia has been moving toward this kind of system for some time, this is a significant step in an ongoing process that will no doubt transform the way Australians engage with their government online. In 2013, the government set up the Financial System Inquiry to examine the needs of Australians and the national economy. Their recommendations one year later included a more streamlined, effective and user-friendly system for digital identity. This framework is the next evolution of that process.
Others will be watching in earnest how the Australians execute and deliver on their plan.
Digital ID Implications
Of course, like anything relatively new to the world, the digital space raises serious concerns for some especially the security and integrity of personal and private data. That’s why these identity frameworks are being fleshed out to ensure those concerns are integral to the systems, with a high priority and emphasis placed on safety and security.
But there are enormous benefits. In developing countries, for example, a system backed by digital ID technology could be a game changer – and a lifesaver. Traditional paper systems have left a lot of gaps and countless people have gone unregistered or undocumented. Lacking a birth certificate, a passport or other official physical identity documentation also leads to a lack of essential services, ranging from healthcare to financial services. Those problems can even extend into the profound such as denying access to justice or affecting one’s ability to exercise voting rights. These have enormous implications for societies, individuals and families, with children being especially vulnerable.
While nations and international bodies look for ways to improve and digitize identification systems, there are also important business aspects. From account creation to authorized payments, digital identification helps to fight fraud and other criminal activities. It can also help companies with their compliance measures, especially KYC and AML – speeding up the process and removing some of the burdens and barriers. Together with your electronic identity verification solution, these new systems of digital ID open up new markets around the world, with greater trust and fewer risks during the verification process.
As more and more people and businesses transact online – with the expectation for a ubiquitous and real-time experience – frameworks and systems like those in Australia, the EU and Estonia present new opportunities for companies to provide better services to their customers.