Digital parenting, minimized fraud and a ‘just do it’ attitude: Future Identity Festival
London was the focal point for discussion on ideas and issues surrounding digital identity and digital payments at the Future Identity Festival 2021. Speakers from government, industry and associations shared their visions for the future, but also a roundup of the status quo as when some felt they were discussing wishful thinking, others could point out that a certain system is already operational elsewhere in the world.
Despite the event being held in Britain, with a particular aversion to national ID, speakers generally agreed that government will have to play a key role in digital identity. “We can’t use bank ID to cross a border,” said Annet Steenberger, Aruba government Happy Flow project lead and chair of the IATA Passenger Facilitation Working Group, “It’s a matter of national security.”
But when it comes to national-level digital security, governments need to start getting ready to ‘receive’ the ID and data involved when travelers begin arriving with their digital ID from a foreign country, according to Steenberger: “Specifications are there, the technology is there – we probably need some more rules and regulations, and at some point you just have to take the Nike principle and ‘just do it’ and some countries should start.”
Speakers did not agree on how many digital identities individuals may have or need in the future, or where a government-issued credential may be required. Yet the cost of transitioning to a robust general digital ID could bring huge efficiencies, with password resets costing organizations as much as US$70, according to Fabian Eberle, co-founder and COO at Keyless.
One such saving is highly apparent in Scandinavia where the BankID system is in place. In 2019, only €1,800 ($2,040) was lost to fraud through the system, according to Katinka Brurberg, User Strategy and Insight lead at Vipps, the leading Norwegian payments app which operates BankID in the country. “You can’t have a digital life in Norway without it,” said Brurberg, who said the average usage was once a day across all markets.
The success of the system could prove problematic in its own right as people find the technology to be such an everyday thing that they may become more likely to let friends or family use their login. Vipps is making their version biometric and hopes to enforce differentiated levels of authorization depending on the severity of the use case.
Representatives from banking and fintech (from outside Scandinavia) were a little more sanguine about the global interoperability of KYC and customer ID. While money is being poured into updating systems, banks still struggle to open accounts for existing customers in a new jurisdiction. The transition to technologies such as blockchain could happen but would take many years, and a physical presence for banks is also expected for the foreseeable future, even if that comes in formats such as counter services at a post office rather than a branch.
A new development in online child protection
There is an exciting new development coming to protecting children online in the UK. Dr Rachel O’Connell is the founder and CEO of a platform that would work across all mobile operators in the UK to give parents a way to have active consent over what their children do online. She said that in pilots of the system, the resounding response from parents is “why doesn’t this already exist?”
The Trust Elevate system will check attributes in line with UNCRC guidance and based on zero-data to verify a child’s age online, and will link that child to the parent (it will not use biometrics or document scanning for parental onboarding). There is an app for parental consent control which would notify a parent of choices their children are trying to make online such as downloading an app. The parent or guardian would then be able to consent to that choice, block it or revoke it, similar to Google’ Family Link app.
The system is being developed with British Telecom to be white-labelled for mobile operators. It is currently in large-scale trials and is expected to launch fully at the end of Q1 2022.