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  • Thierry Spanjaard

Who controls your ID : government, bank or Facebook?

Trustech, the leading event in the secure transactions industry, is the opportunity for all of us to meet up and exchange about the evolutions of technologies and our environment. The first conference titled “Identity Schemes in Europe” revolved around the interweaving between public and private identities.

Government ID has been around for as long as we can remember. Nowadays, it is based on a consistent and secure population registry and, in most cases, government ID takes the form of a secure document, in the hands of every citizen. This document is most often combined with a digital ID.

Private ID, is becoming always more prevalent, starting from a phone number, or a login and password to a full ID as defined by financial institutions for instance.

In many cases, governments and private entities are working together to provide for each of us access to public and private services. Initiatives can come from either the government side or the private ID side.

In India, for instance, UIDAI, the Unique Identification Authority of India, which runs the Aadhaar ID Program, proposes an identity verification service which is used by many private entities. The service allows financial institutions, micro-finance, mobile network operators, and more generally all private entities that need a secure identification of their users to obtain a verification of an identity based on biometrics.

In Sweden, financial institutions got together to set up BankID, a citizen identification solution that allows companies and banks to authenticate and conclude agreements with individuals. In addition, BankID is open to government entities, which obtain a private identity-based authentication of users of their services.

The issue we are facing is that these different segments progress at a different pace. Typically, government ID projects are run over 10 year to 20 year lifecycles and may be even longer if a layer of European standardization is added. On the other hand, the needs of the private sector make private ID projects start much faster, often a couple years.

According to Juniper Research, the number of people using government-issued digital identity credentials will grow by over 150% from an expected 1.7 billion in 2019 to over 5 billion in 2024.

If our industry is not fast enough, these 5 billion digital identity credentials will not be issued by governments or even financial institutions, but by the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft), which are efficient in executing fast identification projects thus creating identities, but without solid foundations, as they are not based on a strong authentication and are prone to frauds, multiple identities, etc.

In relation with this topic, Smart Insights recently published, in partnership with Trustech, a White Paper titled “Private ID infrastructures challenge government-issued IDs” which can be downloaded here.

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