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#Identity Technology

The reinvention of identity for the digital age

5 Mins.

There is a fundamental transformation underway in societies all around the world: identity credentials, which have been embodied in physical documents such as driver’s licenses and ID cards for centuries, are being augmented – and, in some cases, replaced – by digital ones. And the transition presents a unique opportunity to remodel how individual identity is enabled, managed, and secured.

Personal identity – how it is established, captured, verified, used, and shared – is evolving fast.

As many more aspects of our lives have moved online and become digital, identity has followed. From banking to entertainment, travel to e-government services, digital identity has become an essential enabler that makes such engagement not just possible but safe – for all parties involved.

That transition is triggering a significant change in how people perceive their identity and the set of procedures and protocols that surround its use. In many cases, it still involves presenting a physical document such as a passport to an authority or trusted third party; other times, a digital ID on a smartphone is a fast, convenient alternative. Sometimes an individual has to be present to prove who they are; in other cases, remote identification is perfectly acceptable.

As a result, identity credentials now span multiple form factors – from the physical (for example, a national ID card) to the semi-digital (ePassports) to the all-digital (a mobile driver’s license).

While those options deliver a great combination of convenience and security, the new landscape for identity raises both fresh challenges and opportunities for the management and interoperability of identity – for individuals, the agencies issuing and authorizing user credentials, and retailers/service providers.

As this technology-driven shift unfolds, the prospect is not simply to replicate the attributes of someone’s physical identity documents in digital form. Rather, there is an opportunity to reinvent the way identity credentials work – for greater efficiency, user convenience, and security. Ultimately, the goal is to enhance the end-to-end identity experience in order to deliver easy, secure access to an ever-wider selection of remotely delivered services.

A woman using the face recognition of her smartphone

Five trends reshaping identity

The reinvention of identity is being driven by some major technological shifts:

Your biometrics, your identity
Biometric data, which securely links an individual’s unique physical or behavioral characteristics to their identity, is an essential component of every digital identity future. From fingerprint and facial recognition to palm vein and iris scanning, biometrics are already embedded in many physical and digital checks on identity. And the proliferation of biometrics will only continue. 

For example, to deal with the anticipated growth of passenger flow at airports, automated border control solutions are allowing travelers to perform self-service ID verification by using biometrics, allowing them to pass through eKiosks, typically without any intervention from border control.

Cryptographic reassurance
The sophisticated features that ensure the secure use of physical ID documents, such as holograms and optically variable devices, make them inherently secure and trustworthy. But with digital ID, identities need to be secured in a very different way. Cryptographic techniques can provide foolproof levels of data integrity and confidentiality to digital IDs by tying an individual’s identity to cryptographic keys. That prevents unauthorized alterations and ensures that only trusted parties can access the user’s information. 

Moreover, cryptographic authentication verifies the authenticity of the mobile ID via digital signatures, providing assurance that the ID is issued by a legitimate authority and belongs to the person presenting it. That said, the approach won’t last forever. The widely predicted viability of quantum computers in the near future is likely to put today’s cryptography-based systems at risk – a situation that has sent developers in search of quantum-proof cryptography.

Individual control through self-sovereign identity
As a mechanism that gives users control over which aspects of their digital identity they wish to share, self-sovereign identity (SSI) is emerging as an important way to manage and safeguard individual digital identities. It allows people to use their digital identity to securely and efficiently access all kinds of services with minimum disclosure of their unique information. For example, a person seeking access to an over-18 performance venue can provide the necessary verifiable credentials to establish their age, but communicate nothing else.

Ensuring the co-existence of online and offline ID
In today’s world, individuals increasingly expect to be able to seamlessly navigate between offline and online realms, with consistent, secure identity authentication and verification across a mix of form factors. And that will only increase as the scope of digital interaction grows.

Someone might choose to make a secure bank transfer on a mobile phone (with the help of face recognition), for example, then use their debit card to withdraw cash. And, when available, they may choose to send their mobile ID as proof of identity when opening a new bank account, rather than having to present an image of their passport, ID card, or driver’s license.

The ability to interconnect such physical and digital activities will be a key challenge for agencies in the evolving landscape of identity management, and that will require comprehensive solutions that safeguard identity at multiple authentication points across diverse platforms and systems.

Leveraging AI to protect identity
Artificial intelligence (AI) presents tantalizing opportunities and major challenges for both physical and digital identity. There are already countless applications across the identity ecosystem with many more in development. It is being used extensively to enhance the speed and accuracy of identity authentication, to create synthetic versions of an individual person’s portrait so they can be recognized even as their appearance changes, and to detect data inconsistencies and attempts at deception. But it is also being used by bad actors to undermine the integrity of individual identities through techniques such as deep fakes and image morphing.

An infographic illustrating five innovative areas reshaping identity management

Driving the identity agenda

One application that brings together many of their trends involves the shift to a digital driver’s license. Reflecting the growing consumer expectation that essential documents can be stored on mobile devices, demand for mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs) is rising fast. That is particularly true in the United States and Canada, where a driver’s license is not only legal authorization to get behind the wheel, but also the primary form of adult identification. So far, around a dozen US states have implemented mobile driver’s license programs (with many others across North America looking to follow suit).1

That form of universal ID is also proving to be useful outside of the car. In the last few years, 26 of the US’s largest airports – from JFK to LAX – have started to accept an mDL stored in a mobile phone wallet as valid ID for internal flights.2

While presenting a driver’s license provides a wealth of personal data, including name, date of birth, and place of residence, by using SSI individuals can selectively disclose to relevant authorities and third parties only the piece of information that is required. Moreover, such mobile digital ID works both in person (in the case of a highway patrol stop, for example) or remotely (such as when sharing proof of address with a local authority).

Facts & figures


No. of users of digital identity documents in 2026

(Juniper Research)

Embracing the new future of identity

The application of these technologies – and others – will continue to drive the evolution of identity, as digital identities become inseparable from many aspects of our daily lives. And governments and private entities that require verifiable credentials to provide their services have to acknowledge the shift and embrace it. And for good reasons.

Juniper Research has forecast that the number of users of digital identity documents will exceed 6.5 billion by 2026, up from 4.2 billion in 2022, with a major driver being government-backed digital identity documents that will replace physical equivalents.3

Luckily, there is a wealth of expertise on hand to help in the transition. As a trusted partner to identity agencies around the world, Veridos is providing the identity technologies and guidance needed to safely bring about that reinvention of identity, including solutions for mobile driver’s licenses and automated border control.

Key takeaways

  • There is a transformation of identity underway as traditional physical identity credentials are being augmented, combined or even replaced by digital ones.
  • Key technologies – from AI to SSI and cryptography – are shaping the way digital identity is protected
  • Governments and private entities that require verifiable credentials need to acknowledge the shift to digital ID and embrace it fully.
  1. Mobile Driver License Implementation Data Map, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, 2024

  2. Discover New Technologies for a Faster, Easier Travel Experience, Transport Security Administration, 2024

  3. Digital Identity: Solutions Assessment, Regional Analysis & Market Forecasts 2023–2027, Juniper Research, 2023

Published: 13/06/2024

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