The State Of Global Digital ID Verification

Digital identity is essentially a collage of all of the different snippets of verified information held about an individual in the online space. Current multi-factor authentication approaches largely follow the three principles of “something you have” (such as a passport or other official token), “something you are” (relating to unique biometrics such as fingerprint or facial recognition), as well as additional data categorized as “something you know” (derived from online activity such as codes, passwords, financial transactions or other activities). It’s fast becoming an integral part of how we live, as more and more governments and bodies commit to delivering their services online, however a digital identity is also subject to a number of security concerns.

The Rise Of Digital Public Services

The last few years have seen a steady increase in the provision of public services via a digital approach. Whilst there’s no doubt that the recent Covid pandemic accelerated this trend as organisations were forced to find a new, remote way to deliver services from retail to social support, this change has been inevitable for some time. Globally, services provided in areas such as healthcare, pharmacy, and financial services saw the most rapid increase in digitisation [1].

Indeed, many governments around the world are keenly interested in creating digitally streamlined public services, which, in turn, will rely on the use of verifiable digital identities.

A Global Focus on Digital Identities

It is in India that the greatest steps towards digital identity have been made to date. The Aadhaar Programme saw the creation of the world’s most advanced biometric population database, integrating iris and fingerprint data of over 1.17 billion citizens [2], together with issuing a smart card for use by individuals. Meanwhile, Nigeria has announced plans to similarly create a biometric population database in order to better plan for the delivery of key public services such as education, health and even national security. The Bahamas is also looking to boost engagement in a national digital identification scheme, which will again centre on biometrics.

Right now, the UK government is interested in using digital identities to improve immigration services, whilst a digital ID card issued to Afghan refugees in Pakistan is already proving successful. This scheme saw over a million Afghan refugees given ID cards with biometric technology[3], which provide seamless and secure access to a range of public services.

The Future Is Biometric Authentication

The Pakistan approach, in which the sensitive biometric data is embedded within the user’s personal ID card itself, is perhaps the global model that other nations are likely to be looking to in developing their own digital ID plans. This approach avoids the security risks inherent in storing citizens’ personal biometric data on a central cloud-based database, whilst additionally allowing users to benefit from an easy, convenient means of access to services.

Fingerprint sensors are the obvious answer for governments and other bodies looking for a reliable and highly secure method of biometric authentication, which is bound to be a vital part of the efficient delivery of public services in many countries. This approach is the surest way to provide convenient access whilst maintaining the highest levels of public trust.