Can all our identity documents be digital?

Can all our identity documents be digital? Digital solutions for identity documents will harness the benefits of both the physical and the digital worlds

Every day we see increased opportunities for digitalization. This is equally true for many sovereign documents worldwide, such as national identity cards, travel documents and driver’s licenses. In many countries, these documents now exist digitally, albeit in a partially digitalized form.

Partially digitized documents are set to form the backbone of an efficient and systematic eGovernment ecosystem. These documents have an electronic chip that can easily identify their owners by authorized readers, thanks to the data that they store.

Taking security seriously

To securely store and access data on a chip, international standards have been implemented to ensure that only authorized people can access the information.

Basic Access Control (BAC) secures the transfer of chip data between the electronic ID document and the reading device. This information could, for example, include a surname or facial image. Used together with BAC, Extended Access Control (EAC) adds a further layer of security that protects access to sensitive data.

The public key infrastructure (PKI) ensures that only authorized devices can read this sensitive data, as well as issuing, distributing, and verifying digital certificates. These are physical documents, which can be used for authentication purposes for digital services.

Identity solution providers have to invest in new technology and develop methods to stay ahead of counterfeiters. Physical and digital security features have to be enhanced and updated throughout the document’s lifecycle to help minimize criminal activity.

The necessity of eGovernment

Now that identity documents have been partially digitalized, the next logical step is to completely digitalize them. Moving towards digital identity systems while ensuring high security and reliability is a complex task, but far from impossible. We need to install additional security measures to safeguard digital IDs, while still keeping them secure. Just as physical documents have security elements, digital IDs equally require unique features that prove their authenticity.

Meanwhile, steps towards the virtualization of documents are being taken. One example is the US, which tops the 2020 Government AI Readiness Index (measuring the capabilities and enabling factors required for a government to be ready for AI implementation)[1]. Or Denmark, which boasts a central ICT infrastructure linking national and local government agencies to a wide range of services and initiatives. In Estonia, 99% of public services are already online.  In India, meanwhile, a 12-digit identity number, called Aadhaar, makes up the world’s largest biometric ID system[2]. These are just a few of the many examples of eGovernment being implemented around the world.

To measure the development of national e-government capacities, the United Nations has created the United Nations e-Government Development Index (EGDI). This online service index measures a government’s capacity and willingness to provide services and communicate electronically with its citizens. It comprises three indices, namely the service index, telecommunication index and human capital index. All three are equally weighted. Since 2016, the maturity of countries regarding eGovernment is strongly increasing with an average index growth of 30% between 2016 and 2020.


The full digitalization of identity documents is a logical priority – a matter of fundamental public interest


True seal of security

With countries moving towards digitized programs, a number of solutions have been introduced in the field of eGoverment and digital IDs. As a result of COVID-19, digital medical services are becoming more essential than ever. One example is VeriGO® TrueSeal, an eGov attestation process for sensitive patient documents, such as vaccination certificates, that are vital in helping manage COVID-19. By simply scanning the visible digital seal using another mobile device, you can then verify the certificate or document. Furthermore, it can be presented on a smartphone or printed out making the solution useful for all members of society.

Deliver data on the go

Veridos is constantly developing technologies based on the current and future needs of governments. Face recognition, for example, can instantly verify your identity, speeding up processes significantly. You can use VeriGO® TrueID, Veridos’ smartphone face recognition authentication solution to quickly renew a passport, for instance. This application process can be done securely from a remote location.

Mobile driver’s licenses are also now becoming possible, replacing the need for physical documents. Take VeriGO® DriveID that enables citizens to display their driver’s license on their smartphone for checks with no contact and at a distance by public authorities.

A matter of time

Countries’ adoption of eGovernment is already proving to be beneficial. That said, it’s clear we’ll still be dealing with physical documents for some time. For now, both will continue to coexist and remain equally important.

The age of completely digital identities may not already be upon us but the steady pace of innovation means that it will arrive sooner than we think.

Inspired by the idea of digital documents? Got another idea you’d like to discuss?

Contact us to learn more.


[1] Government AI Readiness Index, 2020

[2] Aadhaar Dashboard

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