We are one world. While that is true, it doesn’t always seem that way; we often talk of the first world and the third world as if they are totally different. Unfortunately, the systems that help run our lives in the developed world are often lacking in developing countries, especially when it comes to identity. For someone who does not have a demonstrable identity, they in effect don’t have a status and a whole host of issues propagate from that.
Most fundamental is financial inclusion, having a bank account to perform basic financial functions. Without a bank account paying bills, accepting money, saving, getting a loan or any other financial task is difficult, if not impossible.
Case in point, someone selling a product that doesn’t have a bank account has limited options; their market is very local and cash only. However, if they can achieve status and get a bank account, they then can sell online and the whole world becomes a potential market. They can bypass middlemen, so not only making more sales but more per sale. The potential difference is dramatic.
How can technology help merchants sell their goods to today’s digital consumers and eliminate the middleman for greater prosperity? It’s not as far off as you might think, as already millions of micro-merchants can already sell their wares online. There are numerous projects to provide identity for all by 2030, including the two billion people who are still unbanked.
These underlying concepts are discussed in a recent State of Identity Podcast: KYCC, Regulators and Mobile Data. The podcast features Trulioo’s CEO Stephen Ufford talking with host Cameron D'ambrosi about the importance of identity, new tools to deliver identity solutions, and how it will deeply impact billions of people by advancing financial inclusion. This is his second State of Identity podcast interview as he was guest on the first show.
Providing coverage those ‘thin-file’ individuals is the main topic of the podcast. Thin-file refers to people who don’t have a lot of data to compare against, making eIDV difficult. These are people who don’t have a deep credit history, whether it’s from lack of credit use, their young age, or perhaps they are new to the country.
The best scenario for these individuals is for governments to properly create identities for them. Government data sources are inclusive, trustworthy and, when properly implemented, have high coverage rates. An example is the Aadhaar system in India, which now provides over 90% coverage.
Regulators need to become more prescriptive, specifying requirements that make identity inclusion a requirement. However, being successful requires accounting for the present situation on the ground; identity requires a practical, workable system, not just a dream.
The most interesting technologies for the future of identity revolve around the mobile phone. For example, document verification provides the opportunity to use the phone to scan identity documents, such as a driver’s license or a passport. Document verification acts as a bridge between paper documentation and mobile, before full digital identity takes hold.
Another, powerful technology enabled by the phone is the mobile network operator data. The network has numerous data points that can help ascertain identity. And, as people rarely change their phone numbers, over time their number becomes a connection to their identity.
Going forward, biometrics built into the phone offer another level of identity verification. However, there is significant work ahead to connect this information to identity. Consider, what would happen if the wrong biometric gets attached to an identity, or if someone steals that information. It’s not as if someone can create a new, unique thumbprint!
Consortium View of Identity
This speaks to Trulioo’s philosophy; it’s about using multiple data sources and multiple identity attributes to create a robust, scalable, trustable identity. This consortium view of identity makes use of traditional data sources, adding in new capabilities as appropriate and accounts for the needs of the user.
As Ufford states, "I really do think that a consortium view of identity has been, always has been, and will continue to be kind of the way to go forward."
While trendy apps claiming to leverage “artificial intelligence” and “IoT” might create a buzz in Silicon Valley, the world needs identity solutions that have global reach. That means creating processes that are easy to use, that don’t require learning whole new techniques. Identity solutions should reflect how people are currently doing things.
Identity matters. If we are to truly create one world where everyone can participate and everyone counts, having trusted and verified identities that works for all seven billion people on this planet is a requirement, and that is Trulioo’s mission. We invite and welcome all like-minded individuals and organizations to work with us to help attain this ambitious goal.