What is digital identity and why is it so important?



Lately there is a lot of talk about “digital identity”, but do you know what’s behind it? Do you know why it is important?

The statistics of the World Bank indicate that approximately 1.1 billion people around the world cannot prove who they are because they have no established legal identity, either online or offline.

It is understandable that, in an attempt to tackle the identification problem head-on, the United Nations, in its Goals of Sustainable Development number 16 (point 9) , echo the need to establish a legal identity for all, including free birth registrations before the year 2030.

Although this goal may seem far away given the challenges that still stand in the efforts to democratize identity globally, most countries are making considerable progress to ensure that their citizens have a legal identity.

In a changing world, solving the identity problem is becoming a priority.

Especially if we take into account that societies are moving towards digital. And that countries seek to implement identity ecosystems through which people can identify themselves online and have access to public or private services.

What is digital identity?

Digital identity, or digital identification as it is commonly known, is not recent. In fact it has been around for at least thirty years. However, it is becoming a trend due to the increasing digitization of almost any type of transaction and / or operation.

It is a concept widely defined by experts and identity theorists, so there is no standard definition.

Still, all definitions agree on one thing: that digital identity is the total sum of online information that represents the real identity of a person. In other words, digital identity is the evidence that shows who you are when you access online services or when you carry out any transaction or operation that requires proof of identity.

Characteristics of digital identification

Like identity in the real world, digital identity also has certain characteristics, such as:

  • It is personal and non-transferable, only its owner can access and use it.
  • It must be convenient so that it can be used where and when someone wants.
  • It must be efficient , that is, the digital identity must fulfill its commitment and allow the performance of a specific action.
  • It must be reusable. Once established, it can be used again to prove identity.
  • It is safe, it must be sufficiently protected so that third parties cannot use it.

Why is digital identity important in today’s world?

Without a doubt, the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital identity, which is becoming almost indispensable in today’s world. This is because the pandemic has dramatically changed the way people access and engage with services.

With confinement and social restrictions, most appointments, transactions and operations, such as medical appointments, purchases, bank and financial transfers, classes, work and much of our routines, were transferred to the world of the internet. And its boom was greatly expanded.

On many occasions, you cannot access services or complete tasks without a digital identity -hence its importance -.

Basically because governments, companies or organizations that provide online services must make sure who they are dealing with.

To solve this problem, entities and governments around the world are trying to implement digital identity ecosystems that establish omnichannel identity so that citizens do not have more difficulties related to identification. The World Bank promotes an initiative known as Identification for Development (ID4D), aimed at providing financial and material assistance to developing countries to enable them to expand people’s digital identity.

Digital identity and biometrics

As the internet world expands and becomes essential, related technologies grow. Mainly, technologies to improve the user experience and to protect their identities .

In particular, security is a crucial factor. This is because a identity can be falsified, simulated, altered, stolen or distorted if the appropriate measures or mechanisms are not implemented to safeguard it.

In the field of cybersecurity, biometric technology stands out as the basis on which most digital identity solutions are built these days.

In fact, biometric authentication adds opportunities that other methods of validating identities virtually, such as passwords or OTP codes, cannot guarantee. This is because using passwords and codes ensures that the owner has the information, but does not confirm the identity of the owner. On the contrary, biometric systems do, because they are non-transferable.

In addition, facial recognition, like other types of biometric systems, such as fingerprint, vascular recognition, voice recognition, etc. enhance end-user confidence. Since these are very complicated authentication methods to impersonate.

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