How to replicate digital ID successes explored in ID4Africa 2020 Marathon of Innovations Day 1

Biometrics and digital ID

Examples of biometrics-backed government digital ID systems for service delivery that have yielded benefits for people in countries in Africa and across the globe, and how those systems can be implemented elsewhere was the main focus of the first day in the capstone event for ID4Africa’s 2020 webinar series.

The grand finale of ID4Africa’s season of virtual summits and webinars, the Marathon of Innovations, kicked off with the first of three days of information sessions and a virtual exhibition of biometric devices, software and services, and digital identity technologies.

In his welcoming address, ID4Africa Executive Chairman Dr. Joseph Atick noted that the 10 livecast events the Movement has held so far this year have reached viewers in all 54 African countries, and a total of 135 countries around the world.

The first session was moderated by Mory Camara of ANGEIE in Guinea, and President of the ID4Africa Identity Council.

“The so-called ‘wetwear,’ our intelligence, our perceptions, our personal networks, our capacity to create and honor shared norms is the most consequential part of this identity ecosystem,” said Mimi Alemayehou of Mastercard in the event’s first keynote, which was shared with Raman Narayanswamy.

Narayanswamy talked about the role of digital ID in financial inclusion, and the company’s plans to use tokenized biometrics to bridge the last mile in underserved communities. In answer to a community question, he also noted that Mastercard’s authentication technology can be FIDO-compliant with on-device matching for self-service processes, but the protocol does not apply to operator-led services.

Atos Global Head of Citizen eID Karim Aboulasse spoke about delivering future-ready eGovernment services, frequently seen roadblocks, and the technological and social changes are breaking them down. He presented the benefits of open source and modular approaches to support the various different paths to universal citizen ID for digital government service delivery.

Other speakers during the first session included representatives of SPS, Aware, and Coppernic. During the question-and-answer period, community queries touched on how identity platforms integrate with other IT systems, the effect of COVID-19 on decisions around contact or contactless biometrics, and how remote onboarding and native device biometrics can help extend adequate levels of assurance to people in remote areas.

Narayanswamy said that Mastercard is interested in bootstrapping standards for the output format of biometric technologies to convert them to tokens.

Part one of the 42-stop ‘Innovation World Tour’ followed, with presentations from Iris ID, HID Global and several other industry players.

The second session, moderated by Tumelo Raboletsi of Lesotho’s Ministry of Home Affairs, began with a keynote address from Lyle Charles Laxton, Nick Perkins, Bessie Schenk and Nikita Kolesnev of Laxton Group. Laxton spoke about the company’s role in Ghana’s elections which were held this week.

Kolesnev announced that Laxton is reshaping its partner program, and looking to work with new technology partners.

The company then proceeded to share stories from past projects about a law enforcement officer, a border management agent, and an election official, all from different countries, using Laxton biometric devices to more efficiently and effectively perform their roles.

EY Senior Partner and frequent ID4Africa contributor Thampy Koshy advised policy-makers to think in terms of platforms, combining of the TCP/IP internet, the world wide web, GPS technology and commercial solutions. Among the benefits of this approach, the use of microservices can help to reduce the technical and architectural complexity of service delivery. He provided examples of services delivered to Indian people through Aadhaar that became cost-effective and much faster through links to the national ID platform, which functions as a digital public good.

Presentations followed from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI Global), Veridos, Innovatrics, and Trust Stamp and AiiD. Questions focused on implementation time-frames and the protection of biometric data through tokenization, among other issues.

During the second installment of the Innovation World Tour, presenters included Thales, Tech5 and BioRugged.

The ID4Africa 2020 Marathon of Innovations continues Wednesday December 9 and Thursday December 10 with more informational sessions and further stops in the Innovation World Tour.

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