Digital Identity - Five learnings already as the world is shaken up

by Paul White

This last week has been a ferocious maelstrom of feelings, symptoms, worry and logistical panic for millions of us.   We can only begin to wonder how the world of personal relationships, front line services, the economy, governments and the future of work will evolve.  What will April 2020 bring in terms of hope, clarity and direction?

Some things that have been thrust upon us may form the basis of a new world…  Cash is out, electronic payments are in, smartphones are preferred, and contactless limits are up.  Proving identity by handing over passports in person is suddenly not possible, perhaps this will return but never will it ever be the preferred way again?  Proving who you are and your risk during the recovery stages of this pandemic will be key - are you vulnerable, are you immune, are you a healthcare worker critical to the greater good or a volunteer who needs those 50 loo rolls?

Last week alone we’ve engaged 5 governments. 3 trade bodies and some of the biggest international brands on how digital identity can help the recovery, enable the transition to the other side and into a new digitally oriented world.  My 5 learnings so far…


1:            Onboarding and engaging customers online is critical… business must go on, and acquiring customers is the definition of ‘on’.  Some firms are rightly concerned about the scalability, reliability and friction of existing processes – many of which aren’t built for online particularly mobile.  

 ID checks must be done digitally to minimise touching of paper documents and avoid face to face meetings as much as possible.  This needs technology to play its part, make it easy for the consumer, keep the level of assurance as high, if not higher, than face to face.  


2:            Remote working is easy on one level, but so much harder on others: The ability to communicate, with reliable video and document sharing is keeping many companies from making sharper down-sizing adjustments.  But, how does this expand to allow the most sophisticated knowledge workers and partners to access the most confidential information, connect into secure, private meetings or authorise critical transactions?  Now might be the time abolish passwords and invest more in biometrics so there’s no degradation in assurance, no matter where your employee is.


3:            Shifting job market. Suddenly supermarkets and delivery companies need to hire in their thousands, a new world may accelerate us toward an economy resourced by virtual employees, the gig economy 2.0?  Digital ID brings fluidity, safety, trust and verifiable capacity to this market.


4:             Volunteering and sharing: The UK alone is asking for 750,000 volunteers who will interact and care for the most vulnerable in society. Registration of these individuals, including their own risk position (e.g. they hold a C19 immune certificate) needs proper care and diligence at the maximum speed.  Digital ID will step up to solve this and make sure such credentials can be managed, tracked and refreshed appropriately

5:            Transacting and contracting high value agreements remotely require a new approach to evidence individual consent.  Asserting authority, witnessing where appropriate for legal matters, and ensuring the integrity of complex multi party agreements…  we will see how this plays out and the roles of blockchain, self-sovereign ID, smart device applications, government and private sector schemes respond, but unquestionably the business world will be more digital-by-default than it ever was at every level.


This week we are in discussions across many of these areas, trying to help during this phase of the global response, offering solutions free of charge to healthcare, volunteering programs.    

Please get in touch if you are directly helping to manage this pandemic and see digital identity as a way to improve your success, if it isn’t something we can help with directly – we will surely be able to point you at other digital ID organisations who are as keen to help.

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