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The biggest questions need the boldest answers. That’s why we’re using our global scale, technology expertise and collaborative spirit to move towards a better today and a brighter tomorrow together.

Ten years ago, using photo IDs to open a bank account, use government services or secure a loan was standard practice. However, a digital identity removes the need to visit a shop front with identity documents. It takes all the information usually provided, including passport, drivers’ license, banking details and tax information, and stores this in a secure framework that can be used to assess and authenticate a user interacting with a business system. Arun Kannan, Innovation & Digital Solutions Consultant at TCS ANZ, explores how digital identity will remove unnecessary hurdles for all Australians and the current challenges for this technology.

Posted: June 2021


Q: As digital identity increases, what benefits will we see for users, government and businesses?

Digital identity pinpoints an individual using a host of digital information from multiple sources. Using different sources, data can be validated in seconds, which rapidly enables accurate identification. Removing the long process of physical paperwork improves customer experience streamlines processes and enables faster access to services.

The benefits for businesses and government services are also significant – lessening the chance for human error, reducing costs, improving security, enhancing privacy and the need for onboarding processes. In addition, digital identity streamlines back-office processes, a critical priority for all organisations in the digital age.

Q: What are the key uses of digital identity currently?

Digital identity adoption is rising quickly, with innovative countries such as Estonia rolling out digital identity cards that allow residents to digitally sign documents and log into portals and information systems, becoming the world's first digitally transformed state.

Businesses such as Mastercard are also now offering an Identity as a Service (IDaaS) solution to customers. Users can host all their information with the company to help ensure that all their data and activity is secure, ultimately blocking cybercriminals and other unauthorised users from accessing sensitive data. IDaaS is also a great tool for small businesses and can ensure that they have access to multiple authentication services to protect their data and improve customer experience.

Currently, the top industries using IDaaS include financial services, gig-economy, education, government, religious institutions, healthcare, warehousing and security companies.

Q: What are the core aspects of digital identity management and Identity as a Service (IDaaS)?

There are a variety of features and functionality provided by digital identity and IDaaS; some of the common functions include:

  • Data storage and security: On-premise and cloud storage is critical for the colossal volume of data needed for digital identity. These storage processes will need to have the highest security protocols both at a physical and network level.
  • Data Recovery and Backup: Data centres will need to have the required backup and recovery mechanisms in place. Inter-country data sharing is likely to increase with the use of e-vias and digital passports to establish a common database to verify individual’s identities.
  • Data Quality: As data ages, values change and errors creep in. Over time, new attributes may get defined for which, historical records will not have any value. So, data update, correction, enrichment and standardisation processes must be in place.
  • Consent Management: Citizens must be explicitly informed about the nature and purpose of data collected, and businesses and governments must explicitly solicit their consent.
  • Governance: All required instruments of governance and tracking, such as audits by independent bodies, compliance reporting, notifications, and workflows, will need to be deployed to ensure that the digital identity program runs fairly and transparently.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing digital identity?

Digital identity use is growing, but it's not yet perfect. Data manipulation, tampering and low-quality data sources are significant barriers to accurate use of the technology. While the financial services industry is moving to open banking, there is no standard digital framework for other industries for interoperability creating inefficiencies and unnecessary processes.

Q: What is happening in Australia and New Zealand within the identity management space?

The Australian government has committed AUD450 million to a local digital identity program. However growing concerns on the efficacy and security of this technology will be put to the test with The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) considering an audit into the government's development and delivery of digital identity reforms, led by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA). In addition, Digital and Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello revealed the Digital Identity Ministerial Advisory Council (DIMAC) following the release of the government's first identity strategy last month. This strategy aims to ensure that departments and agencies take a holistic approach to privacy, security and customer service when implementing new identity products, processes and technology.

The New Zealand government is developing The Digital Identity Trust Framework to set out rules for enabling digital identity services.  It will aim to address gaps in regulation and assist the development of trusted, people-centred digital identity services.
Digital identity is an exciting new technology that can create a frictionless, secure and scalable solution that eliminates unnecessary processes and increases customer satisfaction. As this technology rolls out in Australia, we’ll see growing adoption and benefits in the community.