In the rapidly evolving landscape of digital transformation, the concept of digital identification, or "digital ID," emerges as a pivotal force, reshaping the dynamics of value creation for individuals and institutions worldwide. This paradigm shift holds profound implications, particularly for the approximately one billion people globally who lack a legally recognized form of identification.
Bridging the Identification Gap
Digital ID acts as a gateway, unlocking access to essential services such as government aid, healthcare, financial services, and participation in the labor market. The impact extends beyond the unregistered billion to the 6.6 billion individuals with some form of ID but limited access to online services or struggling to manage their digital footprint securely.
The Promise of Good Digital ID
A well-implemented digital ID offers a safe and secure entry into the digital realm, boasting verification and authentication with a high degree of assurance, individual consent, privacy protection, and control over personal data. Research from the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that countries embracing digital ID could unleash value equivalent to 3 to 13 percent of GDP by 2030.
Success Stories and Implementation
Several countries have spearheaded successful digital ID initiatives, exemplified by Estonia's eID and India's Aadhaar. In the financial sector, institutions like SecureKey Concierge in Canada and BankID in Sweden showcase the potential for improved customer experience, enhanced productivity, and robust risk management through digital ID adoption.
Transforming Customer Experience
In the United Kingdom, nearly a quarter of financial applications face abandonment due to registration complexities. Digital ID streamlines authentication processes, reducing abandonment rates and enhancing the overall quality of ongoing customer service. Employers, including banks, can leverage digital ID to optimize talent matching and streamline employee authentication, leading to more efficient hiring processes.
Cost-Efficient KYC Processes
Digital ID revolutionizes Know Your Customer (KYC) processes, allowing financial institutions to expand their customer base rapidly. In India, the use of Aadhaar-enabled e-KYC resulted in a significant increase in financial accounts, accompanied by a drastic reduction in KYC verification costs—from $5 to approximately $0.70 per customer. Similar cost reductions are anticipated globally as markets transition from paper to digital ID-based KYC.
Mitigating Financial Crimes
Digital ID serves as a powerful tool in combating synthetic identity fraud, the fastest-growing financial crime in the United States. Criminals utilizing fictitious IDs to secure credit cost lenders an estimated $6 billion globally in 2016. High-assurance methods of identity verification enabled by digital ID can significantly reduce such forms of theft and fraud, safeguarding financial institutions and their customers.
Low-assurance interactions contribute to cybersecurity breaches, posing risks to the digital economy. Digital ID provides a safer and more manageable alternative to multiple online accounts, assuring online transactions with greater security.
Addressing Risks and Ensuring Ethical Use
Despite its promise, digital ID presents inherent risks, requiring meticulous controls. The potential for misuse, akin to "dual use" technologies, necessitates a focus on individual consent, privacy protection, and control over personal data.
Tackling Potential Dangers
Two categories of risks must be addressed: those inherent to digital technologies and those associated with conventional ID programs. Connectivity and information sharing, while creating value, also introduce potential dangers, including data breaches, technical failures, and misuse of personal data.
Conclusion: Navigating the Future of Digital ID
Realizing the full potential of good digital ID demands careful system design and well-considered government policies. The risks and potential for misuse underscore the importance of ethical considerations in the implementation of digital ID. As banks, individuals, and society at large navigate this transformative journey, the benefits of a well-implemented digital ID system become increasingly apparent, promising a future where access, security, and efficiency converge in the digital realm.