Future-proofing government ID document lifecycle starting from production

Future-proofing government ID document lifecycle starting from production Marc-Julian Siewert, CEO of Veridos GmbH (speech at ID4Africa, Nairobi, Kenya | 24 May 2023)

Speech starts at 1:00:48 or please click here


Good morning, Nairobi.

First of all, let me say I'm sorry because I will now have to make you work. Please take a moment to think about what identity means for each and every one of you. In my opinion, we take it for granted. We don't often think about what identity really means and how much we use it every single day, from dawn until dusk. Not only to travel to this beautiful place and to other places but also to go about our daily lives. We do that in the physical space as well as in the digital space. Identity is who you really are. It is similar to a country’s flag, it represents somebody’s culture. Imagine for a moment being without an identity: who are you, who am I? How do you define yourself? There's almost one billion people in this world without a legal identity. Our industry has the amazing responsibility of granting all those people access to a legal identity.

My name is Marc-Julian Siewert. I'm the CEO of Veridos. Today, I would like to talk about the future of the entire identity domain: in the physical as well as in the digital space. At Veridos, we are customer-centric. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. So when we listen to customers – and especially to many of you in this room – we understand that there's a big need to also produce your own identity documents in the physical space: to have control over the data, to maintain sovereignty and also to have a local value chain. Today, I will talk briefly about physical document production, the supply chain and about digital identities.

There are decision-making drivers to insource the production of identity documents in your country. We've been doing this a lot and later in the presentation, I will provide you some examples. In the beginning, it's important to take care of three major things and to ask yourself three major questions: First of all, you need to have the right technology: we heard a lot about great technologies this morning and you need all of them in a holistic ecosystem to manage identities well. Again, in the physical as well as in the digital space. When you are designing your supply chain, you need balanced state-of-the-art technologies, which fit to the specific needs of your country, your citizens, your situation. Previously, we heard examples from Kenya and from Nigeria and of course there are many others. You need a tailor-made design that fits you and your requirements as regards the the business case. Does it for example make sense to have your own production facility or as part of the entire supply chain? You have to consider the point of sovereignty. Geopolitics are driving the way we operate in our economies. So it's key that you control and maintain your citizens’ data yourself. Again, as mentioned before, in the physical as well as the digital space.

We get a lot of requests about technology transfer: upskilling, localizing value chain, creating part of the value or all of the value inside your country with your own facility. We partner with our customers, we partner with governments in order to find out and develop together with you the best possible way for which part of the value chain you want to do in your country. In some countries it makes sense to even produce the paper for passports. In others, for example in smaller countries, it makes sense to focus on the personalization of physical documents. You need to be sure that you have a complete security concept in the physical space as well as cyber security. You have to firstly ensure that you meet standards and are creating a true trust anchor with the identity. Without this one true trust anchor, the digital identity won’t work. There has to be one truth and you have to own this one truth.

With tailor-made facilities, you first have to look at the physical security of a compound from the outside, as well as at the cyber security from the inside . Then, you really have to define in the value chain and supply chain what you want to do locally. At G+D and Veridos, we work in the entire value chain from the initial creation of a piece of paper that goes in a passport all the way through its lifecycle to the document’s destruction at the end. This can be easily transferred to the digital space.

I brought one example just to give a feeling and show you what we do. Normally, we carry out an analysis and create a joint study: does it make sense to buy from outside or does it make sense to produce locally and how can we together upskill the people and transfer the knowledge. The advantages are the creation of local employment, the inclusion of local vendors and of course the use of local resources. The country obviously takes pride in producing its own documents and in having its own identity. Obviously, we do this together with countries in the physical space from end-to-end, all the way to the digital space: from wallets use cases in the private and in the public sectors.

  • For instance in Uganda, we have created a joint venture together with the government. We produce the passports locally. We do the entire operation of the driving license system locally. And we of course train and upskill the partners that we have in Uganda.
  • In 2018, we started an entire end-to-end project in Bangladesh for 200 million people. In the meantime, we produce 5 million passports locally each year. It's a 12-year contract. We supply know-how and technology transfer from Germany. We have trained more than 1,000 people in Bangladesh. Really think about your supply chain, think about your requirements and needs and look along the entire value chain. It starts with the production of the document, goes through capturing your citizens’ data, enrolment, personalization of documents and then verification. Again, you can take almost the same cycle and transfer it to the digital world; it works pretty much the same way.
  • Since 2013, we have worked in a complex environment in Iraq. Since 2019, we have issued thousands of passports every day at a local production site. We really focus on the requirements of such a country and work together to find the right setup for what you need.
  • In Egypt, we carried out a project in the banknote space – a project close to my heart as I worked on it for five years. Of course, security printing is also connected to the production of security paper all the way to banknotes, passports, ID documents. In this specific project in Egypt, we built an entire cash production, which can serve the continent. It's quite a large space. It was built in the desert from ground up for the production of banknotes. We revolutionized the entire cash cycle – similar to identity – from the physical part of money/cash, all the way to digital payments – central bank digital currency. The way the cash center is automatically handled throughout the country is also growing with more than 100 million citizens today.

The projects can range from very small to very large. This project is a 300-million-euro project that took more than five years. Success was based on a good, strong partnership. That's something I would like to stress because that's at our heart of what we do. We want to partner with our customers and be there for the long term. Our first shareholder, Giesecke+ Devrient,  is over 170 years old, while our second shareholder, Bundesdruckerei, the German State printer, is 200 years old. We are there for the long term, not for short-term gain.

That is how, we create partnerships with our customers. All of us in this room understand the importance of an identity. It is at the root of everything: how much is it worth when a child is born and you are given a birth certificate? You get an identity! You know who you are and your life starts. This really drives me. The question is how we do it best. We owe it to our citizens. We owe it to your citizens. We have a great responsibility here. We believe that the answer is to have made a purpose supply chain that goes from analysis through design to deciding how you can have sovereign key production steps in your country. Same for digital, to have the key infrastructure and control of the data in your country. We are here to support the transition from the full import of documents and identities to a partly local production and also the local issuance of digital credentials. Ultimately, you manage the most valuable good: credentials and your citizens’ data to provide seamless access to the world. Whether it is your mobile phone, your bank account or travel. Let’s work together giving sovereign identities to all. To discuss this further please connect on LinkedIn.

Thank you very much.

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