Editorial

Digital Identity: Global Roundup

Digital identity news from around the world

Posted 13 September 2021 by Christine Horton


Nigeria

Nigeria’s cabinet, the Federal Executive Council, has approved N25 billion (US$61 million) for the upgrading of identity infrastructure at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), reports the Nigerian Tribune, via Biometric Update.

Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy announced the funding and revealed that more than 62 million people have now been registered on the National Identity Database. He also said the money would be released in stages and pressed NIMC’s Governing Board and management to use it judiciously.

Dr Pantami also noted the poor pay and conditions for NIMC staff and that the agency was losing skilled personnel to other organisations and other countries including Eritrea, Canada and the UK.

“It was at this point, after series of briefings from the Acting Chairman of the Governing Board, Director General, and top management; and meetings with representatives of the staff union, that I came to appreciate the dire necessity to reform and rejig the NIMC personnel architecture and the urgent need for intervention for the upgrade of the National Identity Management System (NIMS),” the minister is quoted as saying.

South Korea

FacePhi will deploy its digital onboarding and facial recognition technology in Jeju Island, South Korea for a biometric identity verification system that may be adopted by all companies participating in the island’s smart city initiative.

The solution will be implemented in collaboration with City Labs and aims to make the Korean island province a flagship region in the use of a decentralized digital identity based on blockchain. Residents will manage their ID via a digital wallet.

The project is being promoted by the South Korean government and will enable residents to take advantage of several digital services based on FacePhi’s biometrics and blockchain technology. These will include public transport access, public administration services, and access control for buildings across the city.

UAE

Al Maryah Community Bank has integrated its mobile app with the UAE Pass, which allows residents to open savings and current accounts without having to provide any documentation.

Launched by the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), the UAE Pass app is the first national digital identity and signature app that enables users to identify themselves to government service providers in all emirates through a smartphone-based authentication. It also enables users to sign documents digitally with a high level of security.

The bank plans to introduce products and services like fixed deposits, fund transfers, cheque books, cash deposit services, ATM services, minor accounts, family accounts, business accounts, debit cards, credit cards, and digital debit cards as part of its implementation schedule.

By downloading the app and creating an account on UAE Pass, the user will have a single digital identity across both local and federal government entities, in addition to various other service providers.

South Africa

A report commissioned by financial services company BankservAfrica and conducted by accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has called on the government of South Africa to prioritise policies that give room for the development of digital identity.

Titled ‘Digital Identity – A South African Journey,’ the report examines South Africa’s digital identity story and outlines the experience, to date, with a community of experts from the country’s leading financial services institutions, fintechs as well as actors from the payments industry.

“For the benefits to be realised and the impact on the economy to take full effect, the digital identity policy at government level and the development of integrated solutions by businesses need to be a high priority for all stakeholders,” the 14-page report notes.

“The time has come for consumers, investors and the private and public sectors to work collectively to achieve the common goal of enabling a robust, secure and trusted digital identity for South Africa. It has the potential to generate economic value as well as resolve challenges such as inclusion.”

Germany

Private equity investor AnaCap Financial Partners has made a majority investment in German digital identification provider WebID. AnaCap will provide growth capital and partner with the founders and existing management team to extend WebID’s product offering to other industries outside of the core financial services and telecoms space where it has a market leading position, such as eGovernment, eHealth, eCommerce and eMobility as well as support inorganic growth through future acquisitions.

WebID provides a range of digital identification solutions for Know Your Customer (“KYC”) purposes, such as identification via video call, online banking, artificial intelligence, as well as qualified electronic signature (“QES”) solutions for E-Signing to leading financial institutions and large corporates across Germany, via its modular IT platform, Global Trust Technology Platform (“GTTP”).

France

The French government agency, Agence Nationale des Titres Sécurisés (“ANTS”), will be collaborating with IDEMIA on the national digital ID programme, France Identité Numérique

The updated French national eID card (CNIe) was launched in August 2021 and will enable French citizens to complete online transactions using their smartphone. The digital ID system will be issued with a First Level security certificate from the French IT agency, ANSSI, and will comply with the EU eIDAS regulations; Substantial and High1. The system will protect citizens’ identity data and will ensure that only the authorised citizen has control over it.

The FranceConnect platform, which underpins the program, has already attracted over 28 million users and 900 service providers. French citizens will soon be able to securely access these services using their new digital ID.

Canada

The Ontario government is publicly launching the technology and standards that will build Ontario’s digital identity ecosystem.

When fully launched, Ontario’s Digital ID will allow people and businesses to prove who they are both online and in person with built-in safety features that protect users’ privacy and personal information. It will be a convenient and easy identification solution that is made with the security and encryption necessary for today’s highly digitized world, which protects personal data while performing secure transactions and accessing online services.

Ontario’s Digital ID will use emerging technology standards and, wherever possible, publicly available open source solutions. Key principles include compliance with current industry standards and laws, including Ontario’s Digital Service Standard and Anti-Racism Data Standards.

Africa

A joint venture by Mastercard’s Community Pass and its partner Paycode aims to capture the biometrics of 30 million individuals in remote parts of Africa over the next three years. The plan is to issue them with a Mastercard Community Pass biometric smart card running Paycode’s platforms to provide a biometric digital identity and a digital bank account.

Users’ face and palm biometrics are stored in a chip on Mastercard’s Community Pass smart cards. Paycode, which has been part of Mastercard’s business accelerator schemes runs a platform which offers the card holder a biometric identity (not a national identity) and financial services such as a digital bank account. Services can be accessed offline in real-time. Users do not need an existing identity document.

Pakistan

Pakistanis will now be able to apply for ID cards and sign up for bank services via their smartphones with the new biometric verification system launched by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

Talking to Gulf News, NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik said the organisation’s goal is “to revamp Pakistan’s identification system into a robust citizen-centric system rolling out digital public goods.” He believes that technology that can’t empower ordinary people and enhance the state’s capacity to deliver on the social contract is meaningless.

Singapore

Telecoms company Yinda Infocomm has entered into a definitive agreement to spend €1.5 million ($2.38 million) to beef up its digital identity management capabilities.

The company will do so by taking a 70 percent stake in an entity called GenesisPro, that is in turned used to hold a mixed portfolio of intellectual property and software bought from Austria-based The Institute of Machine Learning.

The portfolio includes facial liveness detection, age classification and know-your-customer checks.

South Korea

The Register reports that South Korea has initiated the process of joining the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement (DEPA), an expanding regional bloc of nations that seek to establish key rules and strengthen cooperation for digital trade.

DEPA was inaugurated in June 2020, when Singapore, New Zealand, and Chile signed up.

The intention of the agreement is that member states agree to recognise each other’s digital identity documents, work on fast and paperless exchange of customs documents, adopt interchangeable e-invoicing standards, and agree that FinTech is a good thing that ought not to be blocked as purveyors seek to operate across borders.