The GSMA has released a report, ‘Digital identities: advancing digital societies in Asia Pacific’, which highlights the roles that mobile operators and regulators must play in establishing digital identity as a cornerstone for economic, financial and social development across the region. The report specifically outlines the growing importance of strong and secure digital identity programmes in eight developing and developed countries in the Asia Pacific region.
“Digital identity is more than just a matter of policy and convenience; it provides the opportunity to interact with governments and businesses securely. E-commerce providers can ensure seamless on-line transactions; governments can better respond to their constituents and improve the lives of citizens,” said Emanuela Lecchi, Acting Head of Asia Pacific for the GSMA. “A strong digital identity programme connects people to e-commerce, electoral participation, educational opportunities, welfare payments, banking and economic development, among others.”
Moving Up the Digital Society Value Chain
The GSMA report examines the digital society plans of eight Asia Pacific countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore and Thailand. While these markets vary considerably in terms of focus, outlook and level of technology integration, there are general guidelines to consider when building a national digital agenda. Connectivity is a recognised precondition for a digital society, while the adoption of digital identities is another.
To reap the benefits from a digital society, developing and transition economies such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand need to ensure interoperability across different government platforms and better leverage existing digital identity systems to provide government services, while mapping a path to develop the role of the private sector. Digital identity is a priority in these countries as it represents a primary source of identification and an opportunity to foster digital, financial and social inclusion.
Advanced economies like Australia, Japan and Singapore are further ahead in their pursuit of a trusted environment for their digital citizenry, so the focus shifts to promoting frictionless ways of identifying users online and across different networks. The need to build and ensure trust in such environments will increase as the number of devices connected in the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. Digital identity can transform traditional commerce and services into more efficient and convenient e-commerce and e-services in these countries.
Across all economies, there is a need for governments, private sector players and mobile operators to support a digital identity framework that is designed with privacy and security safeguards to gain citizens’ trust and ensure that data flows are not unduly impaired.
GSMA Initiatives to Drive Digital Identity
The GSMA is undertaking a range of initiatives to drive the adoption of digital identity in both developed and developing markets. The GSMA’s Mobile Connect is a global, open and common framework developed by the GSMA in cooperation with leading mobile operators and is currently available to 470 million users in Asia Pacific. Focused on developing markets, the GSMA Digital Identity programme leverages mobile technology as an enabler of digital identity and associated services that provide social and commercial value.
“While the digital age continues to evolve, more questions and issues about digital identities continue to surface. It is important to raise and clarify these questions so that we can consider possible answers and work towards solutions that are beneficial to all,” added Lecchi.