Why digital identity should be inclusive by design

Why digital identity should be inclusive by design

By Louise Maynard-Atem, Head of Data Insight

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, digital identity systems have increasingly become the gatekeepers that allow consumers to access and interact with key systems such as healthcare and financial services. This rapid increase in reliance upon digital ID systems can drive considerable benefits for individuals but also has the potential to exclude the most isolated in society further.

According to research published by the McKinsey Global Institute in 2019, good digital ID is defined as identification that is: verified and authenticated to a high degree of assurance over digital channels, is unique, is established with the individual’s consent, and protects user privacy whilst ensuring control over personal data. The World Bank’s ID4D database estimates that 1 billion people are estimated to lack a legally recognised form of ID, and 3.4 billion people have some form of ID but no digital trail.

The wide-ranging and growing requirement for digital identity systems presents us with an opportunity to design systems and capabilities that are inclusive to as broad a range of individuals as possible. As well as being the right thing to do from a societal perspective, it is also the economically sensible thing to do; reports state that digital ID has the potential to unlock economic value equivalent to 3-13% of GDP in 2030, assuming high adoption rates. From a business perspective, this will allow companies to widen their target audience as well as enable much faster onboarding, which in turn can drive greater revenue.

GBG understands the necessity and value of creating truly inclusive digital identity systems and is a headline sponsor of research that is currently underway to develop a cross-industry code of conduct project that will help solution providers to create solutions that work equally for the diverse consumers that they are designed to serve. The project, which is being led by non-profit Women in Identity, looks at both the human and economic impact of identity exclusion, with a focus on financial services. The final deliverables will include a set of inclusion principles specific to the digital identity industry, as well as a practical implementation framework that organisations can utilise throughout all phases of the product lifecycle. The initial findings from the first workstream of the project will be published at the end of January 2022.

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