A billion people around the world today do not have a secure legal identity. Of these, half live in Africa. They include people whose birth was not officially registered because the necessary infrastructure did not exist, a war was taking place, or the family were refugees. Worldwide, 237 million children under the age of five do not, as yet, have a birth certificate. This has a negative and socially destabilizing impact on these children as they become young people and adults. Having no legal identity means no access to digital educational programs, no bank account or smartphone, obstacles when signing contracts or accepting an inheritance, and poorer access to healthcare. These people may also have no nationality or face difficulties voting in elections. “An official, unique identity makes it possible for us to fully exercise our rights and responsibilities in society. An identity is our key to the digital and physical world. And thus a human right,” says Marc-Julian Siewert, CEO of Veridos.
Legal identity – admission ticket to the world and a human right
Having a unique legal identity is normal for most people in industrialized countries but cannot be taken for granted in the less economically developed or politically unstable regions of the world. Birth certificates, ID cards, and passports are essential for our lives. They enable access to government services, education, financial products, and mobility. One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals therefore states that everyone in the world should have a legal identity by 2030. As a leading manufacturer of identity solutions, Veridos, a joint venture between G+D and Bundesdruckerei, has long been committed to achieving this goal. In 2021, Veridos signed on to the UN Global Compact – the world’s largest initiative for responsible governance.
Legal identity – providing access to the world
Verifying their identity and doing business or traveling under their own name is completely routine for many people. But unfortunately not for everyone:
A person’s legal identity is important even before they are born. Can the parents prove their own existence, get married, claim social services, and access healthcare? Will the child have a birth certificate and a nationality? Will they be registered in their mother’s or father’s passport, and will they get their own ID card when they are older? As we grow up and go out into the world, we need a driver’s license, travel documents, visas, and vaccination certificates. Similarly, when we want to settle down, a legal identity makes things easier – from purchasing a home, taking out loans, and opening bank accounts to setting up a business and starting a family. A patient card can also be proof of identity, allowing access to local and digital healthcare services. More and more people are also taking steps during their lifetime to ensure that their digital legacy is handled appropriately and their data does not fall into the wrong hands after their death.
Identity solutions support growth and opportunities
Veridos is a leading provider of identity solutions. These include reliable registration systems, official documents such as birth certificates and ID cards, and solutions for preventing identity theft. “More than 100 of the nearly 200 countries in the world use Veridos technology. That’s our contribution to an increasingly inclusive and sustainable world,” says Siewert. Past successes clearly prove that if a country’s identity systems (e.g. registration and passport systems) work effectively, this can boost economic growth, contribute to the equality of women, strengthen financial participation and healthcare provision, counter corruption, and increase government tax revenues. Consulting firm McKinsey estimates that the full roll-out of legal identities – ideally on a digital basis – in emerging economies has the potential to create economic value equivalent to six percent of GDP in 2030.
Legal identity – important and useful for an entire lifetime
It is important for people to be able to prove their legal identity on an almost daily basis. Anyone without official (digital) identity documents, such as an ID card, is at a disadvantage and will be left behind in the digital economy. This still applies to a billion people worldwide. The UN is therefore committed to ensuring that everyone in the world has legal proof of their identity by 2030. What is this proof actually needed for?
Veridos’ activities in the identity solutions market cover the entire globe. Our customers include countries such as the US, Canada, Denmark, Kosovo, Bangladesh, and Uganda. Veridos is currently working on behalf of the Danish National Police to produce new electronic passports. They were first issued in October 2021 and meet the highest EU and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) security standards. Veridos also provides support for the Public Key Directory Service (PKD), a border control security solution operated by the ICAO. Nearly 100 of the 193 ICAO member states are already participating in the PKD. The service enables them to make their systems and standards for conducting checks at airports even more secure, for example, by verifying the authenticity of electronic passports. Certificates and passport revocation lists are stored in the PKD for this purpose – an important step for combating terrorism, among other things.
A growing number of emerging and developing countries are also investing in new technologies for identity solutions. Bangladesh for example is making great strides in this area. Since 2018, Veridos has been helping the government there to roll out a state-of-the-art integrated system of electronic passports, identity solutions, and border control. Bangladesh has the eighth biggest population in the world and now produces secure electronic passports for its citizens within its own country. It is able to verify the identity of a traveler in just 14 seconds using eGates at airports and offers its citizens an increasing number of e-government services, such as the ability to book appointments with public authorities online.
Secure and convenient solutions for proving a person’s legal identity are now available and support the UN Sustainability Goal. The transition from physical to digital identity products is also well under way. “People can already identify themselves using digital identity documents on their smartphones. Mobile devices are increasingly being used as passports and ID cards,” says Siewert. This will also help fuel the eGovernment megatrend. If countries wish to provide secure online government services for their citizens, people need both a legal and a digital identity.
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