Article 3 min

The digital identity network: a holistic approach to managing risk in a global economy

Digital identity network

June 23, 2020  

Digital identity network

Every transaction must be built on trust. We have confidence that the person or company we do business with will deliver the promised goods, services or payments. Without trust, the economy would crumble into chaos.

This is especially true in the digital economy, where the two transacting parties rarely — if ever — meet face to face. Digital identity provides a layer of trust to ensure secure transactions online, and digital identity verification is the first step in establishing that trust and assurance. 

Why today’s digital identity solutions fail

Digital identity companies have built countless solutions to establish trust, from basic data verification to sophisticated biometric authentication. Individually, these solutions fall short of the mark. They don’t answer all of the questions needed to fully assess the risk of a specific individual, leaving businesses vulnerable to fraud, regulatory inquiry or other harms. 

In its report, Picture perfect: A blueprint for digital identity, analyst firm Deloitte cites the example of authentication technology solutions that “tend to rely on attributes that have already been collected. These solutions provide a better experience for users and ensure that the same person is transacting each time, but it doesn’t help identify who that person really is.”

To provide the proper level of trust and assurance for securely transacting business, a digital identity solution must answer multiple questions:

The digital identity network, a layered approach to building trust online

A digital identity network fills the gap that individual digital identity services can’t. The network is a marketplace of hundreds of data sources, verification processes and tools that work together to identify who a person is — no matter their unique set of identity attributes and risk profile. This marketplace approach lets businesses take a holistic look at all their identity risks and add in whatever verification layers are needed to provide assurance and build trust.

For example, a bank may only need to perform a basic Know Your Customer (KYC) check when onboarding a customer with an established government ID number or driving license. If that same customer wants to take out a loan, the bank would need to run other verification checks to create a higher level of assurance.

And if the bank wants to onboard a customer whose only form of digital identity is a name tied to their mobile phone number, it would likewise build up assurance through multiple verification and authentication layers. The bank could use the customer’s mobile phone to provide: 

  • Device authentication through a mobile network operator
  • Biometric authentication, which compares a selfie photo to the photo on an ID document
  • ID document verification, which captures images from a person’s ID document and assesses its validity

As the above examples show, the digital identity network is adaptable, changing to fit the different needs of the business. The network is also optimized — or what analyst firm Gartner calls “orchestrated” — intelligently deploying the best combination of tools and data sources to arrive at the appropriate decision. And it’s always evolving and improving, so global businesses can build trust online and consumers from all walks of life can enjoy the benefits of a digital economy.