Updated: Oct 7
According to The World Bank, approximately one billion people cannot prove their identity because they lack official identification. Considering that identification is needed to open a bank account, this statistic means that more people have no access to financial services. This makes the number of people that are not financially included a staggering amount.
The case is worse for women, as they suffer the ills of gender discrimination. According to a study conducted by the GSMA, there is still a number of people in Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Rwanda that think women do not need official identification as much as men. This belief is rooted in structural and societal gender inequality and social norms, and such is the case in other countries as well.
One of the ways this inequality can be addressed is through Digital ID Systems. Once identification is normalized, the rate of financial inclusion shall rise. To take a look at how different countries use Digital ID systems, here are some examples from Asia all the way to Africa:
India’s Aadhar System
Each of India’s residents is given a 12-digit ID number once they sign up and go through the verification of their identity. This Digital ID System is called the Aadhaar, and its registration is free of charge — allowing everyone, most especially women from low-income households to easily enroll and use the Aadhaar as a form of ID for government and financial services. Almost everyone in India has an Aadhaar, and this has increased the number of bank accounts in the country as people made us of this to access financial services.
Singapore’s National Digital Identity
Singapore and its residents, on the other hand, have the National Digital Identity (NDI) which is a crypto-based mobile digital identity. With the NDI, Singaporeans can prove their identity and sign documents digitally in a hassle-free manner as they no longer need to use usernames and passwords just to access digital services. Some financial services can also be accessed with the NDI’s biometric authentification. This is especially important for women who are unbanked as the NBI can be used to streamline customer on-boarding.
Sierra Leone’s Kiva Protocol
In Sierra Leone, they have the Kiva Protocol — a biometric system that makes use of the holder’s thumbprint as proof of their identity. This biometric system is intended to increase the number of people with bank accounts in the country, and since the entire adult population of Sierra Leone is already registered, the number of bank account holders in the country will soon in increase, especially for women since a lack of identity is one of the barriers that hinder them from accessing financial services.
Pakistan’s Biometrics via their National Identity Card
Ever since the government of Pakistan required its residents to validate their identity first before registering for a SIM card, the country saw a rise in registration for a national ID. Before one became a SIM card owner, they first had to verify their identity via their National Identity Card’s biometric information. Because of this SIM registration process, Pakistan’s largest financial services brand was able to extend its services to these SIM card holders — furthering financial inclusion in the country.
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