Editorial

$61bn UN pension fund moves to Digital ID

That’s after a successful PoC confirmed the value of Digital Identity and Blockchain technologies to “automate the certificate of entitlement process with secure mechanisms that create traceable, immutable, and independently auditable evidence”

Posted 4 February 2020 by

The United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF) will use biometrics, blockchain, geo-location, and mobile to certify pensioners’ benefit entitlement out of its $61bn defined pension fund.

The body has decided on the move once it had confirmed the value of Digital Identity and Blockchain technologies to “automate the certificate of entitlement process with secure mechanisms that create traceable, immutable, and independently auditable evidence”.

The move ends over 70 years of a manual, paper-based process, states the body, with the move following an earlier successful proof of concept created and tested in collaboration with the International Computing Centre, an internal UN information technology and communications provider.

According to the UNJSPF, the proof-of-concept experience was all about aiming to overcome the limitations of the existing manual process and prevent risk that could hamper the flow of entitlements.

Every year the pension fund has to verify more than 70,000 beneficiaries located in more than 190 countries, confirming they are still alive. And that’s meant, for seven decades, that’s required every beneficiary to return a signed paper-based form, a certificate of entitlement, by snailmail.

The pension fund also has to confirm beneficiaries’ residence if they are paid under a “local track” system, which converts the value of US residency-based benefits to a local currency and local cost of living.

According to the UNJSPF, biometrics were used for personal identification and confirming a beneficiary was still alive, while geo-location was used to confirm a beneficiary’s residence.

Now, the pension fund is taking steps to start a pilot project with a view, if successful, to implement the solution for all new retirees.

Plus, new pensioners of select UN entities or member organisations will be given the opportunity, on a voluntary basis, to use and test the new approach.

The United Nations Joint Staff Fund is a fund that provides UN pension, death, disability and the other related benefits for staff of the United Nations and the other organizations admitted to membership in the Fund.

In 2018, the UNJSPF says it had nearly 130,00 active participants and more than 78,000 beneficiaries, who were paid $2.67bn in benefits.