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Accenture, Microsoft demonstrate digital identity prototype at ID2020 Summit


Accenture has partnered with with Microsoft and Avanade to provide blockchain and biometric technologies to support ID2020, a global public-private partnership that is working towards implementing digital identity on a global basis by leveraging secure and well-established systems.

The companies have developed a blockchain technology-based identity prototype that runs on Microsoft Azure, designed to enable users to control who has access to their personal information, as well as when to release and share data.

Using an advanced decentralized, or “distributed,” database architecture, maintained by multiple, trusted parties on the blockchain, the technology eliminates the need for a central authority.

Instead of storing any personally identifiable information, the prototype taps into existing “off-chain” systems when the individual user grants access.

Accenture and Microsoft, which are founding alliance partners of ID2020 who have pledged financial and technology resources, provided a demonstration of the prototype at the ID2020 Summit (id2020summit.org) at the United Nations.

“People without a documented identity suffer by being excluded from modern society,” said David Treat, a managing director in Accenture’s global blockchain business. “Our prototype is personal, private and portable, empowering individuals to access and share appropriate information when convenient and without the worry of using or losing paper documentation.”

The Accenture prototype is designed to interoperate with existing identity systems to ensure that personally identifiable information always resides “off chain.”

The practice aligns to guidelines established by the Decentralized Identity Foundation and uses the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance’s private, or “permissioned,” blockchain protocol.

To solve issues faced by individuals who do not possess an official identities face, Accenture will use its Unique Identity Service Platform to deploy a biometrics system that can manage fingerprints, iris and other data.

One potential application is providing undocumented refugees with a reliable personal identity record to ensure that they can receive assistance where and when they need it.

The Accenture platform provides the foundation of the Biometric Identity Management System, which is currently used by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to enroll more than 1.3 million refugees in 29 countries across Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.

The system is expected to support more than 7 million refugees from 75 countries by 2020.

“We believe that identity is one of the most important needs in international development and an area where Microsoft and the private sector are uniquely positioned to contribute,” said Yorke Rhodes, global business strategist at Microsoft. “We are thrilled to work with Accenture and bring Microsoft Azure’s global scale, flexibility and security to support ID2020 and make progress on this critical societal need.”

The prototype project was led by the multi-disciplinary team comprised of designers, software engineers and blockchain experts at The Dock, Accenture’s new research and incubation hub in Ireland.

The ID2020 organization joins governments, NGOs, technologists and experts from the public and private sectors to implement the most effective, scalable, secure and sustainable technologies.

“One of our goals at Accenture is to improve how the world works and lives by digital technologies to solve some of our most pressing challenges,” said Marty Rodgers, who leads Accenture’s work with the Partnership for Refugees and is the global lead for Accenture’s NGO practice. “ID2020 is another example of Accenture and our partners working together to support some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Accenture published a research report in April that found that governments in Asia Pacific are leading the world in adopting technologies such as biometrics for identification.

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