I just wrapped my session, From Fintech to Identity Tech: Ensuring Choice and Control Over Our Most Fundamental Assets, at Identity Week 2022 in London.
Preparing for the stage time, I found myself asking questions like:
- How do we recalibrate the role financial institutions plays in the evolving identity landscape?
- How do we verify who we are, what we are entitled to, and what we should access?
- As we change throughout our lives, shouldn’t the identifiers that define us change as well?
I also revisited my 2014 TED Talk and all that’s been learned over the last decade of transformation in Payments and the broader financial ecosystem.
Ten years ago, our choice on how we pay, save, spend, borrow, was infinite…either as a consumer or a business. The fragmentation and confusion was paralyzing. I want to pay you, hmmm….how? Something so simple became so complex and the cognitive overload to move $10.00 globally was unnecessary. Things have changed in payments (somewhat) but I bring up the analogy because that is the same discord identity management faces today.
Our identity is no longer just a government-issued ID. It’s our buying habits, whereabouts, online accounts, education, occupation. Our COVID status. Plus biometrics, e-signatures, social media connections and content.
Despite all that data, sometimes we still don’t know if someone is truly them. (See: Tinder Swindler and other recent identity scams). And, beyond the need to verify people, all eight billion of us, it’s estimated by that by 2025, there will be 75 billion Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices in the world contributing to the creation of 175 zettabytes of data in the global datasphere. (FYI: One zettabyte has 21 zeros.)
Static Identities No Longer Suffice
We can now harness data signals and create dynamic identities, ones that shift with our personal preferences and patterns. With the context of our lives.
The internet was built to identify computers, so they could communicate; it is being used to identify people, places, spaces, and things but no longer is who I am or is that computer legit enough. It is about who does this connected “thing” belong to, what is it entitled to access and what economic decisions are to be made as a result of the data signals being collected.
Up until two years ago, I believed financial institutions would be the nucleus to this technological development, leading how tech-led identities and assets are enabled, protected, and managed.
But much has changed.
- According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, financial service sector is distrusted in majority of developed countries
- 67% of U.S. consumers are willing to sacrifice their convenience the keep their data locked down (Wakefield Research survey for AU10TIX)
- Governments are making headlines for citizen-centric tech innovations for digital identity
Net-net: The opportunity that financial institutions could have played in creating a global identity ecosystem has diminished. However, as finance experts and innovators, ones closest to the movement of money that powers our world, I believe this group must contribute to the reinvention of identity. It is not a siloed problem or one for any single organization to solve.
(Choice + Transparency) x Technology = Trust
Customers and citizens are becoming savvier, and choice and control of their data is at the forefront of every transaction and interaction. This comes as no surprise given how much choice we have in other aspects of our lives—from 200+ payment options to personalized Nikes, Gender X and remote work. The challenge for identity is how do we infuse these same principles into new verification modalities.
At AU10TIX, we’ve modernized our flagship product while executing an aggressive roadmap around a modular service-based architecture for new ones. We are soft-launching our Contextual Credential Solution where we can not only verify the authenticity of an ID but can create a tokenized credential that sits within a “digital wallet of choice.” This is just one of many examples of AU10TIX’s commitment to a self-sovereign identity infrastructure, one that furthers a safer, more inclusive world in which your identity is…YOURS
Democratizing and Decentralizing Identity is Good Business
Every day I get up and imagine a world in which you can verify yourself as seamlessly as you make an ApplePay purchase, on your terms.
With the proliferation of data and new interoperable frameworks, we can offer everyone the protection of their identity while providing access to goods services and capital that is sometimes denied today—whether you currently or aspire to contribute to our capitalistic society.
The self-sovereign digital identity movement will serve a greater purpose than preventing financial crimes. It will invite the World Bank’s estimated billion people around the world who don’t have an official proof of their identity, including one in two women in low-income countries, to interact and transact safely in the global economy. It will help organizations fighting humanitarian crimes, like trafficking and misinformation, champion innocence and truth much more efficiently.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, full digital ID coverage could unlock economic equivalent value of 3-13% of GDP by 2030. It could also eliminate the horrible headlines we saw during the pandemic around the $1 trillion in aid that was misappropriated or misused, impacting citizens’ and business’ ability to survive—not to mention the $50 billion that was just committed to Ukraine.
I believe it’s our responsibility as a society and as major players in our financial ecosystem to come together to bridge the public and private divide to solve for identity and therefore financial crimes….and as a result humanitarian crime. To start, we need to reframe what identity means and how we are making decisions, how we protect our identity, what it really means to know your customer or employer, your driver, your server…
Bridging physical and digital will be around for a while, the journey has just begun and through public and private partnerships this can be done —let’s solve this.