Yoti wins social purpose recognition for digital identity initiatives
The digital identity sector has so far focused on anything other than allowing users to get involved in the design of digital identity systems, according to The Drum, which has caused a knowledge void between how companies think the technology is used and how it is actually put to work or why some would be even interested in a digital identity.
The Drum’s Social Purpose initiative wanted to get a clear picture of how communities feel about digital identity, what their concerns are and what can be done to solve their problems.
Yoti hired a Head of Social Purpose in April 2018 to unite the company’s socially-beneficial activities into one program. While many targeted the UK, Yoti started looking into digital identity needs and opportunities to expand the program to other regions in Africa and South East Asia.
After speaking with industry experts and attending digital identity and humanitarian events, Yoti worked out its Social Purpose Strategy with an updated website launched in January 2019. The social purpose activities together with non-profit support were covered by some £250,000 (roughly US$324,000).
Yoti provides non-profits and socially-focused organizations with digital identity technologies and solutions for free. Its Social Purpose Strategy includes activities that support providing legal identity for all, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16:9.
The company also launched a flagship Digital Identity Fellowship Program for which they accept applications for projects related to research, policy development or solutions development in identity or digital identity. Three Fellows, ideally from the Global South, receive a £35,000 (roughly $45,000) stipend and support from the company. Yoti announced the current Fellows in the project will focus on exclusion and human rights in Argentina, South Africa and India.
“India has become something of a living lab for digital identity, but despite the overwhelming success of biometrically capturing over a billion people, problems remain,” said Jaideep Prabhu, Nehru Professor of Indian Business at Judge Business School in Cambridge in the UK. “The proposals from India are particularly exciting because they bring with them the potential to explore new lines of thinking, and an understanding of areas previously overlooked.”
Yoti also publicly introduced its Guardian Council, which was launched in 2014, earlier this year to maintain trust in its handling of sensitive information, and consider how to adapt its technology for humanitarian purposes.
In the upcoming weeks, Yoti will launch a new Digital Identity Toolkit to help journalists, tech enthusiasts, civil society and academia understand digital identity and how it can be used in their line of work. Not only does Yoti collaborate with innovation hubs around the world, but it also created an offline identity solution for the humanitarian sector.
The 2019 Fellowship Program received more than 120 applications from more than 30 countries in the Global South. In 2018/2019, Yoti donated £17,200 (roughly $22,000) to charity. Recently, the company established the UK-registered Yoti Charitable Foundation and made a commitment of donating to it 1 percent of revenue and 2.5 percent of profit.
The charity is focused on registered IDs and online safety, as the company aims to make the platform available to users without documents or devices and with disabilities. Yoti has partnered with a number of charities and community organizations to draw attention to identity challenges.
“This is a great opportunity to work with an innovative team on issues that really matter,” said Tim Unwin, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D. “Rather than beginning with the technology, these Fellowships offer an opportunity to begin with people – identifying why they might want a digital identity, and how such identities can be designed most appropriately to serve their needs.”
This post was updated at 9:35am ET on November 19, 2019, to clarify that Yoti’s Guardian Council existed previous to its public introduction.