Digital IDs and the Digital Economy: the (still) missing link?

800x418_M360Bangkok_V1

Mobile 360 Series Bangkok 2018: Digital Societies (GMSA, 2018)

Sponsored content in association with GSMA

By Peter Lovelock and Laura Winwood, TRPC Pte. Ltd, a Singapore-based boutique consulting and research firm specialising in the telecommunications and ICT industries in the Asia Pacific.

One thumbprint, a couple of swipes and a few taps. That’s all it takes to reserve a restaurant, take advantage of an online sale or update friends on the day’s events. We take for granted our ability to interact and transact in the digital realm, especially that we are able to do so because we can seamlessly prove that we are who we say we are; in other words, we have a digital identity that can be authenticated which grants us access to online services, securely.

However, while many of us enjoy benefiting from the convenience of mobile apps, are we overlooking the role and importance of a digital ID as the precursor to participating in a digital economy? “Digital ID”, and indeed “the Digital Economy” are phrases so ubiquitous that most of us assume participation is readily possible for all. This, of course, is not yet the case. Instead of thinking of digital IDs as a ‘nice to have’, we need to reconsider what can happen in economies and societies where there is no easily prevalent means of acquiring an ID – let alone a digital ID – and where the vast majority are constrained by paper or more traditional means.

The potential for accelerating financial inclusion is one obvious example. Individuals cannot receive or send funds, or even start to save, without a bank account; and even in cases where individuals do have a non-digitalID, they often live too far from a physical bank to open an account. A digital ID permits the use of mobile payments on 2G phones, empowering individuals to take control of their finances, engage in e-commerce or take their businesses online and across borders.

Beyond financial inclusion the economic case for a digital ID is strong; if we consider that in a developed market such as Australia, the “economic value of an accepted digital identity” has been estimated to be US$8 billion per year1, the transformational potential of digital IDs in less well-developed economies could be staggering. Papua New Guinea provides a striking example of such potential. 80% of the country’s population of 8 million live in rural areas, which are often remote and inaccessible by road. The majority do not have access to electricity and, as of 2016, less than 12% of the population were internet users2. However, mobile phone penetration has significantly increased, from 1% in 2005 to 25% in 2011 and around 40% in 20163. Mobile phones present a powerful platform for digital inclusion, including access to online educational services, e-healthcare and e-government services to name a few.

Put simply, with the technology already largely in place throughout the Asia Pacific region digital IDs are arguably the missing link, and not an enhancement. By 2025, 73% of the regional population will be mobile subscribers4. Digital IDs can connect individuals, often inhabiting remote areas, with access to online services and platforms. Perhaps more importantly they enable civic engagement in an era of digital citizenry. Without digital-IDs, huge proportions of populations will remain cut off from the digital economy, likely leading to a further gap in wealth, education and health.

The challenge ahead

To enable such advances in the expansion of digital ID frameworks, properly designed privacy and security safeguards are necessary to gain citizens’ trust, while at the same time ensuring that the flow of data is sustained, both at the national level and across borders.

Privacy

When Cambridge Analytica allegedly accessed personal data from millions of Facebook users to target them for political campaigns, the need to act to protect data privacy became front-page news. The personal attributes collected in identity registration processes or used in identity authentication processes, represent the type of information that data protection and privacy policies, laws, and regulatory agencies need to protect – and which citizens expect them to defend. It is important that privacy and data protection rules strike the right balance between protecting consumers and encouraging the emergence of a digital society.

Cross-border data flows

Cross-border data flows have grown 45 times in volume since 2005, benefitting consumers, the economy, and society as a whole. However, some countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam have set cross-border restrictions on data delivery, storage, and processing. Countries often impose these rules believing that supervisory authorities can more easily scrutinise data that is stored locally, or that the privacy and security standards of a country can only be enforced if the data stays within that country.

A way forward is for privacy and data protection frameworks to be based on internationally recognised principles, as this can mitigate risks without restricting data flows and the benefits they bring. Such high-level alignment increases trust between countries and allows a coordinated approach.

Cybersecurity

In light of high-profile cybersecurity incidents (such as the recent hack of more than 1.5 million Singaporeans’ personal health data), a cybersecurity framework is required to instil trust among users and deter cyber criminals. While governments have a legitimate interest in ensuring cybersecurity, it is important that cybersecurity does not become an impediment to the development of a digital society.

Conclusion

There are, it needs to be recognized, many laudable initiatives into financial inclusion and social development live throughout the region. However, too often there remains an underappreciation for the potential of digital IDs, via mobile platforms, to provide a tangible and integrated solution. A further step will be for policymakers to curate digital ID frameworks that are compatible with existing regulations – or perhaps it is time to update relevant policies and implement regulations so that no one will be left behind.

For more information on the progress of digital identity in Asia, download the GSMA/TRPC publication here.

  1. A frictionless future for identity management: A practical solution for Australia’s digital identity challenge
  2. http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/papua-new-guinea/
  3. https://oxfordbusinessgroup.com/overview/competitive-bet-new-operators-and-government-reforms-are-set-transform-telecoms-industry
  4. https://www.gsma.com/mobileeconomy/asiapacific/

Join the conversation at #M360DS in Bangkok on 5-7 Sep! Register to attend at www.mobile360series.com/digital-societies .

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Euro-Mediterranean Assembly fixes its permanent seat in Rome

African cities will double in population by 2050. Here are 4 ways to make sure they thrive

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Back to the future: flying cars are becoming a reality

Is Eurozone heading for disinflation?

Fostering global citizenship in medical students through exchanges

The miserables and the untouchables of the economic crisis

Disintegrating Tories will void May’s pledge for Brexit deal in seven weeks

We’ll succeed together

Fostering global citizenship in medicine

Counting unemployment in the EU: The real rate comes to anything between 16.1% and 20.6%

Christine Lagarde: the three priorities for the global economy

European Court rules that ECB’s OMT program of 2012 is OK; not a word from Germany about returning the Greek 2010 courtesy

New EU rules ensure better protection for 120 million holidaymakers this summer

How the EU crisis hit countries saved the German and French mega-banks from bankruptcy and still pay the costs

For video game addiction, now read official ‘gaming disorder’: World Health Organization

What next after more sanctions against Russia, will the Ukrainian civil war end?

Jeroen Dijsselbloem new Eurogroup president

What can stop the ‘too big to fail’ bankers from terrorising the world?

Brain Drain remains a crucial and unresolved issue

Presidents of pan-European youth organisations call upon the European Council to preserve the Schengen principles

Can Obama attract Iran close to the US sphere of influence?

Obese people more likely to smoke, says new gene research: WHO

EU Summit consumed by the banks

Nuclear test ban treaty critical to global collective security – UN chief

EU-wide penalties for money laundering: deal with Council

We can build a carbon-neutral world by 2050. Here’s how

Spanish and Polish voters are crying out for an imminent European change while US urge now Germany to change route

The Swiss will pay dearly for voting out fellow Europeans

Millions of young lives ‘at risk’ says UN labour chief, calling for an end to child labour

UNICEF appeals for end to ‘war on children’ in Syria and Yemen

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Europe – 14 June 2016

Be a part of the World Forum on Future Trends in Defence and Security

This is how people in Europe are helping lead the energy charge

New Report Offers Global Outlook on Efforts to Beat Plastic Pollution

UN says ‘many humanitarian achievements’, one year after ouster of ISIL from Mosul

UN mission welcomes Afghan government’s announcement of Eid holiday ceasefire

INTERVIEW: Advancing human rights, a ‘never ending process’ says new UN rights chief

‘Virginity testing’: a human rights violation, with no scientific basis – UN

Draghi joined Macron in telling Germany how Eurozone must be reformed

Embrace ‘people-centered multilateralism,’ UN-civil society forum urges

‘Safe Eurobonds’: a new trick to betray the south euro area countries

IMF: When high yield goes boom

EU and India re-open talks over strategic partnership while prepare for a Free Trade Agreement

At the edge of humanity: refugee healthcare in Greece and the EU

Further reforms can foster more inclusive labour markets in The Netherlands

France v Croatia: How the World Cup finalists stack up off the pitch

New chapters in EU-China trade disputes

Trade, taxes and other takeaways from Li Keqiang’s speech to the World Economic Forum

The EU Commission lets money market funds continue the unholy game of banks

These countries are ranked highest – and lowest – for human development

It’s not summer holidays what lead to the bad August of the German economy

Zuckerberg preaches that Artificial Intelligence will protect Data Privacy in Facebook whereas Verhofstadt demands the big European state to take charge

How Hawaii plans to be the first US state to run entirely on clean energy

China-EU Summit on 16-17 July 2018: “Work together to address common challenges”, by China’s Ambassador to the EU

Businesses succeed internationally

The EU risks trade relations with China over the Tata hype about steel

When it comes to envirotech adoption, NGOs can lead us out of the woods

Subsidiarity and Proportionality: Task Force presents recommendations on a new way of working to President Juncker

Slight easing of G20 GDP growth in first quarter of 2018

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s