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Philippines launches authentication platform for national ID

World Bank lauds progress on access to government services
Philippines launches authentication platform for national ID

The Philippines opened a web-based offline authentication platform for its national digital ID named PhilSys Check, allowing users to perform identity verification for public or private-sector services through a smartphone or computer, according to The Manila Times.

The Philippine government has pushed forward for national ID in recent years and months. Its PhilID program leverages biometrics to issue a national ID card, to help verify the identities of people who sign up for PhilSys, the Philippines Identification System. The Philippines expects up to 92 million registrants for the PhilSys program by the end of 2022, and the government reported more than 60 million registrations as of mid-March.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the country’s statistics agency, launched the authentication program as a means to ensure the authenticity of QR codes issued by the PSA with web-based offline authentication that uses public and private key cryptography. It also functions as an identity verification platform for transactions between individuals and parties such as governments and corporations, says Assistant National Statistician Fred Sollesta of the PSA.

The platform was piloted last November with participation from 13 financial institutions, according to the report.

World Bank discusses PhilSys benefits

The World Bank, which loaned $600 million in December 2021 to support the country’s economic development, allocated part of the funds towards building digital ID infrastructure. In a blog post by the World Bank, the international loaner says the Philippines, “provides a great example of a government addressing digital ecosystem gaps – strengthening the foundational ID, digital data governance, and digital payments systems.”

Stating that countries with digital ID were better prepared to address the COVID-19 pandemic with easier access to relief for citizens, the World Bank says it is supporting the Philippines’ efforts to expand PhilSys so more Filipinos can have a functional ID to access government services. Jonathan Marskell, a senior program officer at the ID4D initiative of the World Bank, quotes a 2017 ID4D-Findex Survey that found one-fifth of the poorest Filipinos have been denied government services, and one-seventh have been denied government financial support because they lacked an ID.

The rollout of PhilSys will enable more Filipinos to prove their identity with less paperwork and receive benefits like COVID-19 relief funds in less time, says the World Bank’s Yoonyoung Cho, a senior economist at the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice.

Marskell says PhilSys can tackle fraud and leakages, provide more data, and offer more beneficiary-centric processes. He says, “This will be game-changing for the Philippines’ mission to end poverty.” Cho however warned about digital ecosystem gaps that require a beneficiary-centered approach, enhanced user capabilities, and optimization of digital technologies, rather than the common approach of upgrading IT equipment and digitizing existing processes.

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