Editorial

Digital Identity: Global Roundup

Digital identity news from around the world

Posted 31 August 2021 by Christine Horton


Afghanistan

More than 50 civil society organisations and individuals have signed a statement calling on international institutions to take immediate action to restrict and secure biometric and other digital identity databases in Afghanistan.

They call for “an urgent safeguard” of digital identity and biometric databases created in Afghanistan by development assistance missions, foreign governments previously aiding Afghan authorities, humanitarian actors, aid agencies, and the private sector vendors whose tools have been deployed “to ensure they are not misused against people.”

The letter notes that as the Taliban takes over key cities and government functions in Afghanistan, “there is a tremendous fear in the country that militants and other armed actors will increasingly target human rights defenders, gender justice activists, media professionals, bloggers, digital journalists, members of the creative arts, critics of authority, and others, particularly as they gain more control over information and infrastructure that allows them to do so at scale.”

Several individuals and vulnerable groups have already expressed concerns about the security risks posed by their data trails.

There are at least three digital identity systems known to have been recently operational in Afghanistan: an Afghanistan Automated Biometric Identification System maintained by the Afghan Ministry of the Interior with support from the US Government; the e-Tazkira electronic national identity card system coordinated by the Afghan National Statistics and Information Authority; and U.S. military “Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment” along with the biometric data it stores, which was recently seized by the Taliban.

In addition, there may be several smaller biometric authentication systems and digital identity databases operated by different humanitarian agencies and other actors, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) collecting iris scans during refugee resettlement) and the World Food Programme (WFP) implementing biometrics in its e-voucher programme.

The organisations say that “by embracing technologies without weighing their potential for harm, these flawed systems are now putting Afghanistan’s most vulnerable people in a human rights and security crisis.”

Africa

The World Bank vice president for Western and Central Africa, Ousmane Diagana, says the continent has strong digital growth potential, but conscious and steady efforts have to be made to accelerate progress and build out digital identity systems, especially in the Western and Central African region where developments are lagging.

Biometric Update reports on an opinion piece published on the Banks’s website that says efforts must be stepped up to close the existing and wide digital divide, and to build what he terms “digital stacks,” and then work toward achieving a single digital market.

This, Diagana says, can be done with “greater leadership and collaboration from Governments, the Private Sector and Civil Society” across the continent.

Driving digital growth in the Western and Central Africa region will not only help reverse some of the socio-economic inequalities exposed by the advent of COVID, which significantly sped up digital adoption, it will also attract investments necessary for strong, resilient, green economic growth and quality job creation, writes Diagana.

Nigeria

Youverify.inc has launched YouID, a secure digital identity wallet with the aim of bolstering Nigeria’s digital economy and security through secure access to relevant identity information.

It is no longer news that millions of people have compromised their accounts, resulting in losing money or important information stored online. This situation has necessitated multifactor authentication and other failsafe to protect accounts to check the shortcomings associated with identity issues.

YouID is a secure digital identity wallet that lets individuals safely store personal details, identity information and personal documents in an encrypted format and use it to access online services securely without filling a Know Your Customer (KYC) form.

At the launch, Youverify’s CEO, Dr Gbenga Odegbami, said “Our goal at YouID is basically to eliminate you from filling the form twice or numerous times. Once you upload your information, you just need to click to fill any form hopefully in the world but let’s start with Nigeria”, Odegbami noted.

YouID, he said, also has a two-factor authentication system that helps safeguard the online accounts for users across multiple online platforms and helps notify them of any breaches.

Pakistan

The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has launched a new system of verification and renewal for the national biometric ID cards known as computerized national identity cards (CNICs). The verification system will use artificial intelligence to detect a fake identity card, reports the Associated Press of Pakistan.

Pakistanis can now check government records of their family tree to see whether anyone has fraudulently joined it with fake ID. They simply send their CNIC number and issue date via SMS from their registered mobile phones to 8900 and will receive all the details of their family tree.

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has granted approval for the development and live testing of products spanning digital identity, AML, KYC and centralized KYC via a second cohort of regulatory sandboxing, reports The Nation.

Applications were received for a range of approaches and technologies including artificial intelligence, machine learning, security token offerings, blockchain and distributed ledgers. The overall aim is to kickstart a fintech revolution in the country.

Global / Asia

Post-COVID-19, the global digital identity solutions market size is projected to grow from $23.3 billion in 2021 to $49.5 Billion by 2026, recording a CAGR of 16.2% from 2021 to 2026.

Research firm ResearchAndMarkets says the growth can be attributed to the increase in instances of identity-related frauds and data breaches and the need for compliance with various upcoming regulations.

By deployment, the cloud segment is expected to grow at a higher CAGR than the on-premises segment during the forecast period.

The adoption rate of cloud-based digital identity solutions is expected to be on the rise, due to their features, such as ease of use and reduced installation and maintenance costs. The on-premise deployment mode is expected to have a larger market size during the forecast period, as large enterprises have the required infrastructure for deploying their solutions on-premises. On-premise deployment assures high levels of flexibility and control. At the same time, a cloud-based deployment enables the expansion of the number of end users, as required.

Based on region, the digital identity solutions market in Asia Pacific is projected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. Major factors boosting the growth of the digital identity solutions market in APAC include increasing investments by government and defence sectors as well as increased technological advancements across various sectors.

With rapid digitization, increased use of smartphones, mobile applications, and cloud storages for the smooth functioning of businesses Asian organisations are evolving to a security mindset.