An inclusive digital identity platform in the Pacific Islands
An inclusive digital identity platform in the Pacific Islands10 June, 2021 •
Digital identity is increasingly becoming the key enabler of digital inclusion across the globe. We conducted three country diagnostic studies to understand and assess the use cases and ecosystem requirements for a digital identity (ID) platform in the Pacific Island countries of Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
This research was conducted in collaboration with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) under the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP). The objective was to assess if and how the implementation of an inclusive and sustainable digital ID platform solution, tailored to meet country-specific needs in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, can lead to higher economic and social inclusion levels through bringing value to consumers, industry and government.
A digital ID platform can enable access to a wide range of services for those without identification but the choice of platform model demands on country-specific factors. Country-level data shows that close to 71% of Fijians, 30% of Solomon Islanders and 82% of people in Vanuatu lack access to a birth certificate, which is the main foundational identity and is crucial to gaining access to additional, legally recognized, identities such as national IDs, passports and voter ID cards (Fiji Bureau of Statistics, 2017; Vital Strategies, 2016; UNICEF, 2017). Individuals who already have some form of identification can be fairly easily onboarded onto a digital ID platform, which can then be used to assert and prove their identity. This can allow for the identification of individuals reliably and remotely, thus facilitating access to a variety of digital services, which is especially beneficial in regions like the Pacific Islands where the population of these nations can be scattered across many small islands, making access to services a challenge.
A legally recognised digital ID platform can also offer a future-proof template for the onboarding of people without an official ID document and/or will be able to create a robust identity over time. Utilising a digital ID solution can open the door to continuous identity proofing, i.e. it can be utilised to verify a person’s identity on an ongoing basis, rather than once-off, to create more robust identity profiles, especially for individuals without identity documents (Cooper et al, 2020).
It is important, however, to consider country-specific factors when it comes to the choice of model for the digital ID solution: its use cases, regulatory environment, country context, governance scheme and the choice of technology required for a digital ID platform to be sustainable and feasible.
In Fiji, mobile digital solutions for a number of use cases are increasing (including e-government services, mobile merchant payments via QR codes and e-hailing platforms) and hence it will be important to identity how these could be integrated into the platform in order to avoid duplicating services. A total of 19 use cases were identified to benefit from a digital ID platform in Fiji, with the highest numbers of expected monthly transactions generated by the financial services sector. A government-led, private sector-owned and -operated approach could be suitable for the Fijian context if collaboration and buy-in can be ensured and if the initial funding for the setup can be secured.
In the Solomon Islands, a total of 18 use cases were identified to benefit from a digital ID platform ranging from 300 to 12,000 estimated monthly transactions, with G2P payments a clear core contributor. Utilising the digital platform for SIM registration is also another strong use case as it would have several benefits, ranging from streamlined digital financial service account opening to enabling ID proxies. Overall, the low scale in terms of transactions underlines the need for regional integration to create enough scale as a national solution is unlikely to generate enough transactions on its own.
In Vanuatu, the occurrence of natural disasters on a frequent basis highlights a strong use case for a digital ID platform to help identify people in need of financial or humanitarian support. In total, 17 use cases have been identified to benefit from a digital ID platform in the country but the low monthly transactions that could be generated by most of these use cases (ranging from 20 to 15,000) may not make it financially viable, underlining the need for regional integration to create enough scale – similar to the Solomon Islands.
Read the detailed report on each of the three Pacific Island countries below and do not hesitate to get in touch to learn more about our findings.
This collaborative work was done in collaboration with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) under the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP).