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Trust in digital ID requires intensive collaboration, public education: Women in Identity panel

Trust in digital ID requires intensive collaboration, public education: Women in Identity panel

Moving beyond the distrust that prevented the Australia Card from being introduced a generation ago to provide effective digital ID will require further public education, according to panelists of the first webinar held by the Australian chapter of Women in Identity on “The Importance of Digital Trust.”

The webinar was moderated by Carolina Gallegos, senior director of risk services for Visa Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, who began by reviewing the organization’s growth and ambitions. Women in Identity has surpassed 1,100 members around the world, with level of engagement ranging from 5,000 social media followers and 15 ambassadors in 10 countries. The group has a growing number of initiatives, which Gallegos touched on, along with sponsorship opportunities.

Expert panelists included Consultant Agnieszka Szczepanik, Australia Post Head of Digital ID Margo Stephen, and PwC Partner Mary Attard.

Australia Post has not moved into the identity space with digital ID, but has already been providing police check, employment verification, and passport photo services for years. Now, the organization is attempting to grow both the ecosystem and the user base, Stephen said.

Attard spoke about the need to bring the human element into the digital ID space, and the baseline trust requirement that consumers have for any organization to provide ID services.

Szczepanik compared the complexity of putting AML frameworks and policies into place that can satisfy the needs of many jurisdictions to similar goals for digital identity. She also noted that while user experience in onboarding is typically poor in Australia, employee experience is also poor, recounting her realization that “the whole onboarding journey was really just about data management.”

The panelists discussed what trust means in the context of the digital economy, noting that trust often derives from the values demonstrated by the organization in a broad sense, and the need to satisfy both ethical and compliance standards. Doing so likely requires intensive collaboration, because of both the relative newness and the breadth of the digital identity space. Australia’s progress was considered, on both the government side led by the Digital Transformation Authority (DTA), and the private-sector side led by the Australian Payments Network. Players in the ecosystem still need to decide what opportunities to delve into first, and to take a unified approach to be effective amid rapid social and technological change, panelists said.

Szczepanik pointed out that broadband infrastructure in Australia lags behind many countries, hampering digital ID efforts.

The Australia Card debate of the 1980s came up multiple times, though the panelists seem agreed that the degree of resistance would be different now, and likely be uneven between different demographics. This is part of the reason the DTA is focussed on delivering choice in the digital identity system.

The panelists also discussed how the last year would have gone differently had an effective and widely-used digital ID already been in place, which brought the conversation to the need to support vulnerable people as so many services move online.

Advice for the industry centered mainly around making a clear and compelling value proposition, and putting ideas and theories to the test. The latter is part of what motivated the trial Australia Post is running in collaboration with Mastercard and Deakin University, Stephen said. Education is important for all stakeholders, but many consumers are still burdened by misimpressions, such as that all identity data is stored in vulnerable honey-pots. The industry can deal with this and other challenges in part by bringing people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives into the industry.

Questions posted by the audience during the closing Q+A session included how ready Australia or the world is for open banking, how banks in Australia compare with those in the UK in terms of digital onboarding, and how to make services more accessible in the country, given that only 60 percent of Australians own a passport.

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