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Implementing and Securing Digital Identities: An Imperative in a Dematerialized World

December 18, 2019 | Digital article
Published on

By Kerry van der Mescht

By: Connecting Africa.

Digital technologies have brought about profound changes in the way in which we interact and consume – and generally live – on a global scale. Their potential for improving all aspects of society is such that governments have become increasingly interested in the implementation or optimization of a digital society, depending on their respective country’s level of development.

In the dematerialized environment that characterizes digital society, citizens can go online to easily access a wide variety of services (healthcare, education and financial services, among others), which they may otherwise not be able to benefit from due to cost, lack of infrastructure, etc. This, however, creates the need for these now “digital citizens” to prove their identity when they go online, in a secure manner and using Trusted Digital Identities (TDIs).

What is a Trusted Digital Identity?

A digital identity consists of information that makes it possible for an entity – be it a person, an organization or a device – to authenticate themselves when attempting to obtain goods or services online.

The nature of digital identities may vary greatly depending on the context. When accessing online games, for instance, a pseudonym and a password may be all that is required. However, in some cases, it is essential to ascertain that you, as a user, are indeed who you say you are. That is why online government or banking services, for example, require a digital identity that can be easily verified – i.e. a Trusted Digital Identity (TDI).

Trusted Digital Identities: Why are they so important?

Online privacy and security are probably the first benefits of TDIs that come to mind, and probably with good reason. However, the ability to identify oneself on the Web has a host of other benefits for citizens and governments alike. For instance, studies have shown that digital identity programs benefit governments through their potential to increase GDP by facilitating digital commerce, a major driver of economic development.

Combined with mobile technology, TDIs have the potential to change the landscape of financial inclusion by enabling unbanked citizens to access formal banking services. Moreover, TDIs also promote overall accountability by establishing a clear link between a specific individual or entity and a specific action.

Despite the benefits of TDIs, 1.1 billion people in the world are still not able to prove who they are, according to the World Bank. As a result, private companies, governments and regulatory authorities are looking for solutions that will not only enable the users of their digital systems to identify themselves, but also to do so in a secure and verifiable way.

GVG’s contribution to the development of Trusted Digital Identities

In addition to dramatically improving governments’ oversight of important industries such as telecoms and fintechs, while maximizing revenue mobilization and tax compliance, GVG’s digital audit platforms promote TDIs as the cornerstone of a truly safe and inclusive digital ecosystem.

Indeed, solutions such as our digital remittance oversight platform and our SIM registration platform, for instance, provide a sure means to identify users in the digital world. Our digital remittance oversight platform checks information about remittance service users, such as name and potential criminal record, which makes it possible to determine whether a transaction should be considered as compliant or not. It thus allows for the systematic application of Anti-Money Laundering Rules (AML), as defined by the relevant authorities of the country.

As for our SIM registration platform, it consists of a centralized database that links every registered SIM to a specific user. This database allows the authorized parties (e.g. the regulator and the mobile network operators) to monitor, check and update the information pertaining to SIM ownership, with a view to promoting accountability and curbing fraud.

Trust is a key requirement when it comes to the creation of a digital society. Governments and their institutions, companies and individuals alike need to be assured that the information they provide, obtain or store online is safe if they wish to provide, or benefit from, valuable online services. By developing solutions that promote trusted digital identities, GVG aims to contribute to the creation of a safe, transparent and inclusive digital ecosystem in both the telecom and financial sectors.

By: Raul Vahisalu.