Digital Identity - Proving Your Self Bit by Bit

Software is eating the world. Industry after industry, the efficiency, speed, scalability and adaptability of digital processes are taking over. It’s no surprise that digital identity technologies will dominate the personal identification market;[tweet_dis excerpt="Digital ID tech will dominate personal identification market, eDoc will account for 90% by 2021"] eDocuments will account for around 90% of the global market by 2021.[/tweet_dis]

Today, when you think of ID, you probably think of a driver’s license or a passport. In this mindset, ID is a physical document that you carry with you to prove your age or identity in face-to-face situations. What happens though, if you want to prove your identity online or on a mobile device? What happens if you lose your document, or forget it? How about document forgery or synthetic identities?

While the quality and security features of identity documents are improving, they have a fundamental limitation inherent in their physical nature. There’s a production process that can take weeks to deliver a new document. There’s only one copy of an official document, so if it’s in transit it’s not in your possession (such as when applying for a Visa). If it’s lost or stolen, the replacement process is difficult, time-consuming and problematic, especially if you’re not in your home region.

ID Documents

A huge issue, in this digital age, is that physical ID’s are not designed for proving identity online. More and more business is being conducted online. As a matter of fact, last year eCommerce in the US grew 14.3% in Q4 in comparison to Q4 in 2015. Without proper identification, issues with fraud and lack of legal compliance come into question.

For financial services providers, it’s a legal obligation to perform identity verification checks to comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) laws. It defeats the whole purpose of online services to require customers to visit a physical location for face-to-face identity verification checks when you can accomplish remote identity verification using trusted data sources and technologies available via GlobalGateway.

Identity is the lynchpin for the whole P2P economy; after all, if you trust someone to stay in your house, or drive you around, you want to be assured that the person is tied to a verified identity. These P2P onboarding processes need to be quick and seamless. If the process requires an in-person identity verification check, it unnecessarily delays the process and creates another barrier to entry, leaving us right back to where we started from.

The question is, how can we migrate to a digital identities model that is secure, trustworthy, easy to use, easy to integrate, scalable, and upgradable (future-proof)?

Instead of creating the future from scratch, there’s an existing framework that already enjoys wide-spread use, consumers are comfortable with, and has built-in security features. Can you guess what it is? You’ve probably looked at it in the last 15 minutes, or maybe even right now.

It’s the (mobile) phone. On average, people in the United States check their phones 46 times per day, according to a Deloitte mobile consumer survey. People can access online services with a click. It has built-in sensors to perform biometric checks. It has SIM data that can connect to individual profiles, to improve security.

Mobile Identity

Already, there are use cases that utilize the phone’s camera to take pictures of primary ID documents, document verification. In this scenario, while the ID is physical, it converts to digital. Digital checks and processes can then be employed to check for authenticity, check for accuracy, and analyze the data. The camera can also be used to take a selfie, which can also be checked by using facial recognition technology, further improving the fraud prevention measures.

The logical next step is to do away with the physical document; why not go with a complete digital identity? The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recently released a report, Identity and Authentication, which considers the issue. Of course, this is a complex issue with different countries having different government ID systems, cultural values, telecommunication, legal and financial systems. Also, there’s a lot at stake with deep concerns regarding privacy, control over data, security and the trust framework.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, every jurisdiction will have to sort through these issues for itself. While the end goal seems clear — mobile identity — the fog of politics obscures the path. Governments, financial institutions and mobile operators all have vested interests in the outcome and will need to determine a proper mix of interests. Businesses and citizens have different requirements and desires from a digital ID system that need balancing.

The goal is significant. Mobile identity is about enabling a whole new economic model, providing access to billions of underbanked people, protecting your privacy in an increasingly digital world, and opening up a world of online citizen engagement. Now is the time to set the stage, to determine the rules, to shape the future of identity.