In my final insight into the case of blockchain applications, I will talk about digital identity. This is a tricky field for three reasons.
First, before we talk about what the blockchain can do, we must understand what we call identity.
Second, we must understand the difference between the blockchain and the shared ledger, which is fundamentally different in terms of digital identity. That’s why every time people say that the blockchain solves the digital identity, the identity planner will be unhappy, and you will see that the blockchain is not the solution.
Third, as with clearing and settlement, identity programs are more relevant to corporate and government structures than technology. The identity plan is not a technical issue but a structural issue.
For these three reasons, this updated article is very long – nearly 4,000 words in the original text – I will start with the third point. There are currently several structural projects underway to try to solve the problem of online identity management. Some, like in the Nordic region, is the government and industry that work together to create digital signatures and identities. Others have received applause from others because they set standards, like the plan of the Estonian government.
The importance of the Estonian program is that it is the first project to achieve a vision. Under the plan, citizens can control their digital identity and give government and business licenses instead of doing the opposite. BBC News recently in order “ (The Today) Today Plan” of the story do the research:
I just got a new identity. It is a plastic card with a wafer, which means that I am now a resident of Estonia. Or it should be said to be an E resident because this card represents Estonia’s ambitions – exporting its expertise in digital identity to the world.
The E-residence program has attracted 10,000 people around the world and offers any benefits of 100 euros for some of Estonia’s 1.3 million nationals as a digital identity card benefit for more than 10 years.
I met with the young manager of the project, Kaspar Korjus, at the E-Estonia show in Tallinn, where the government showed foreign visitors the progress of the digital services it planned. Kaspar first showed me his digital identity card – yes, his number is 38712012796, but that doesn’t make much sense to you unless you have his card and two sets of PIN codes.
We surfed the Internet into a profile that he could confirm with his identity card – his doctor, his driver’s license, his family status. He explained that he could control the information and that without his consent, that information could not be shared. His ID card can even be used to vote – “I travel a lot – but I am still involved in four elections that I was not in. I used PIN 1 to confirm my identity and PIN 2 to vote.”
Although it is not a resident of E who can’t vote or allow someone to sign a visa from outside Europe, it offers several advantages. It makes it much easier to set up a company and open a bank account. You can use cards to sign documents and contracts electronically.
This is a country that doesn’t worry about immigration – in fact, it wants more people to move in here. Kasper told me that the weather and the long distance of Estonia have delayed their progress, but hope that by letting E residents do not have to relocate, they can start a business here to promote the economy.
He cited an example – a Ukrainian painter, Stanislaw could not sell his paintings because his country had no infrastructure to accept foreign currency payments. “PayPal will work with people who have a business address in Estonia,” Kasper said. “But it’s not someone who lives in Kyiv.” The painter now has a company in Estonia and is selling to the world while still living in Kyiv. His paintings.
I suddenly had a question about the E-residence plan – isn’t this all about tax avoidance? “In fact, the opposite is true,” Kaspar Korjus explained. “Every transaction has a record. Your identity is there. It is very transparent.” The expectation for this project is that all E residents need to generate income for them. Paying taxes – in their country – the Estonian government will pass the income details to the local tax authorities.
Estonia hopes to benefit from creating a business with its banking and advisory services, rather than direct income. Then there is an interesting prospect of linking digital identity services to blockchains, which is the underlying technology for virtual currency bitcoin.
There is already one such experiment going on. Nasdaq, which operates the Tallinn Stock Exchange, is establishing an E-voting program that allows shareholders to vote at the annual general meeting. The E-residence platform will be used to identify voters, and the blockchain will provide a quick and secure way to record votes.
The E residency program is currently underway. Although it’s currently limited to my use, I can see that my new digital identity is gradually becoming the way I verify myself on e-commerce sites and other places that want to know that you are the person you claim to be.
Kaspar Korjus is convinced that this is a time-honored idea, and countries will compete to provide such virtual citizenship: “We are the first to take action – there will be many E-resident programs.” He plans to In 2025, it will attract 10 million E-Estonians. It sounds very ambitious, but this small country has already shown that when it comes to digitalization, it has a lot of power.
This is a remarkable and worthwhile project. The key is that citizens should have their information and manage their identity. Why should I provide my identity to a centralized architecture that will compromise? This is why there are so many reasons for identity problems today because the centralized organization suffers and the information is stolen. I want to control my own identity information. That is the key, and with the performance of Estonia, it is coming.
This leads to other projects. There is a recent United Nations digital identity project, and very importantly, a recent report by the World Economic Forum, focusing on disruptive innovation in financial services: a blueprint for digital identity :
The report calls for financial institutions to lead the development of sound identity solutions for users, financial institutions and society as a whole. Some of the important steps outlined in the report include research and understanding of the user groups, the interaction with the public sector, and the key technologies needed to determine the identity system. Although not intended as a development plan, this report will serve as the basis for an entity that wants to understand and ultimately accept identity.
The plan’s directive is to explore digital identity and understand the role of financial institutions in establishing global standards for digital identity. This 108-page report corroborates the reasons I am interested in, so I want to copy a few pages of key pages here:
For more information, please see Chris M Skinner’s article on Chris Skinner’s Blog: