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Bhutan identifies hurdles to reach benefits of decentralized digital ID

Bhutan identifies hurdles to reach benefits of decentralized digital ID

Realizing the gains offered by Bhutan’s self-sovereign digital identity system will take significant work on the app that delivers it, integrating services, sensitizing the public, and even the judiciary. Actors drawn from various fields including government, corporate bodies and the private sector have acknowledged the potential economic benefits that could come from the wide use of Bhutan’s NDI.

The representatives shared their thoughts recently during a conference which explored the challenges, innovation and economic opportunities the identity wallet can offer, the country’s state broadcaster BBS reports.

Bhutan is seen as a shining example in the implementation of a fully decentralized identity system which places a premium on user data privacy. It was showcased as a model during a technology event in London two months ago.

At this latest conference, GovTech Agency secretary, Jigme Tenzing, said a lot of work is still being done not only to build an atmosphere of trust around the digital ID system, but also to popularize it so that it can be used to obtain many other services.

According to BBS, a number of recommendations regarding the digital ID wallet were made including the need to add a national language other than English to it, as well as the introduction of a voice biometrics feature to serve people with visual impairment.

Others called for increased use of the social media to create awareness about the wallet and the economic gains that come with its usage in terms of increasing access to digital services. Proposals also included incorporating many other use cases such as health services into the app.

The NDI agency is also currently testing a new system to make the app’s selfie biometric feature easier to use.

These reflections on the present and future of Bhutan NDI comes as the there is said to be reluctance in accepting digital documents issued through the wallet within the judiciary.

Local outlet The Bhutanese quotes a GovTech official as saying that to avoid such scenarios of outright rejection of digital credentials, efforts are being made for the system to enhance its capability to demonstrate “authenticity and rightful ownership.”

Meanwhile, an announcement also recently dropped that Bhutan NDI is working to transition from the current Hyperledger Indy to a Polygon blockchain system.

The ID authority said in a LinkedIn post that the new system, which will soon go live, “offers a wide range of features that prioritize interoperability, robust trust and reliability, cost efficiency and innovation.”

Since its launch about nine months ago, more than 53,000 citizens have adopted the digital ID wallet to access different services.

Bhutan was conferred the “Special Award for Decentralized ID in Practice” at an event in Berlin, Germany early last month.

The architect of the NDI system discussed its scope and ambitions with Biometric Update in an interview at the end of last year.

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