No digital identity = no economic growth for APAC: GSMA

digital identity
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Cellcos and regulators must play a role in establishing digital identity as a cornerstone for economic, financial and social development across the Asia-Pacific region, says the GSMA, who just happens to have digital identity initiatives they can use to achieve that.

A new report from the GSMA outlines the growing importance of digital identity programs in eight developing and developed countries in the Asia Pacific region: Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore and Thailand.

While these markets vary considerably in terms of focus, outlook and level of technology integration, there are general guidelines to consider when building a national digital agenda, the report says. Connectivity is a recognized precondition for a digital society, while the adoption of digital identities is another.

To reap the benefits from a digital society, developing and transition economies such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand need to ensure interoperability across different government platforms and better leverage existing digital identity systems to provide government services, while mapping a path to develop the role of the private sector, the report says. Digital identity is a priority in these countries as it represents a primary source of identification and an opportunity to foster digital, financial and social inclusion.

Advanced economies like Australia, Japan and Singapore are further ahead in their pursuit of digital, so the focus shifts to promoting frictionless ways of identifying users online across different networks. The need to build and ensure trust in such environments will increase as the number of devices connected in the IoT continues to grow. Digital identity can transform traditional commerce and services into more efficient and convenient e-commerce and e-services in these countries, the GSMA says.

Across all economies, there is a need for governments, private sector players and mobile operators to support a digital identity framework that is designed with privacy and security safeguards to gain citizens’ trust and ensure that data flows are not unduly impaired, said Emanuela Lecchi, acting head of Asia Pacific for the GSMA.

“Digital identity is more than just a matter of policy and convenience; it provides the opportunity to interact with governments and businesses securely,” said Lecchi. “E-commerce providers can ensure seamless on-line transactions; governments can better respond to their constituents and improve the lives of citizens.”

As it happens, the GSMA notes it is undertaking a range of initiatives to drive the adoption of digital identity in both developed and developing markets, such as Mobile Connect. Focused on developing markets, the GSMA Digital Identity program leverages mobile technology as an enabler of digital identity and associated services that provide social and commercial value.

“While the digital age continues to evolve, more questions and issues about digital identities continue to surface. It is important to raise and clarify these questions so that we can consider possible answers and work towards solutions that are beneficial to all,” added Lecchi.

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