What is MOSIP’s role in digital public infrastructure? Gates Foundation explains
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the world’s largest charitable organizations, has published a primer on MOSIP (Modular Open-Source Identification Platform), summarizing the project’s achievements and placing them in the context of a global push for digital public infrastructure.
The Seattle-based foundation, which takes its direction from United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, has pledged US$10 million to support MOSIP, a technology developed for creating national digital ID systems. The project, based out of Bangalore, India, has found success among low and middle-income economies.
The original inspiration for MOSIP was India’s national digital ID system, Aadhaar, which launched in 2009 and triggered a surge of interest in digital IDs across the world. But other countries could not simply copy systems like Aadhaar, they had to rely on solutions from commercial vendors, which raised costs for national governments and exposed them to “vendor lock-in.”
MOSIP was launched in 2018 as an alternative digital public good allowing everyone to use the software.
The Philippines was MOSIP’s first large-scale deployment. Since 2018, 11 countries, nine of them in Africa and two in Asia, have signed memoranda of understanding with MOSIP to pilot the system. More than 90 million people have been registered for MOSIP-based IDs in the Philippines, Ethiopia, and Morocco as part of national deployments.
The system had to be adapted to each country. MOSIP developed a thriving ecosystem of more than 80 commercial vendors that could provide more choices to governments and keep prices low. The organization also provides free training and a marketplace where partners can showcase products to governments. MOSIP oversees an independent certification process for commercial partners and collaborates with global institutes like the Alan Turing Institute and Carnegie Mellon University to research privacy and security solutions.
The MOSIP team hopes that the system will register 1 billion people over the next decade.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation considers digital ID systems, including those created with the help of MOSIP, one of the pillars of digital public infrastructure (DPI) as it helps to accelerate economic growth.
Individuals benefit because they can safely and cheaply conduct transactions. Businesses benefit because DPI stimulates the market and gives digital service providers an equal opportunity to compete. Entrepreneurs can use the infrastructure to innovate and launch new businesses. Through DPI, an estimated 16 to 19 million microbusinesses and small businesses globally could gain access to capital. Governments benefit because they can provide essential services to residents, the organization says.