There is no standard definition for digital identity. All data on the Internet that gives some characteristics on persons, companies, etc. and that are being used for transactions, interactions, and representations online can be considered digital identity.
Digital identity takes many forms, ranging from government protocols to private solutions and “self-sovereign” products. Therefore, there are two problems to it:
Digital identity isn’t universal
The meaning of a digital identity changes depending on the use case. For example, a social media profile is not enough to transfer money from a bank account, register for a vote, or apply for public services.
Accurate data ≠ accurate identity
Some identities are true to a person, but do not reveal anything about that person’s preferences or reputation.
Digital identity is required by consumers and companies. It protects all types of businesses: financial service and banking, payments, travel and insurance. It also gives a lot of advantages:
Preventing fraud. Many banks use biometric voice data when communicating with consumers over the phone. The intonation, timbre, and speech speed are studied by neural networks.
AML, KYC, CTF compliance. Owing to the ever more accurate and detailed digital identity of the users, companies are getting to know their consumers better.
Accessibility of the familiar things. Virtual car key exists as a digital solution which enables drivers to access their vehicles. They can use a smartphone to start their car and remotely access the vehicle information in a secure way.
Streamlined processes. One of the successful examples of digital identity cases is visitor management in companies, hospitals and industrial facilities, where they summarize information about who the visitors come to and where they are going.
Digital citizenship projects. In Singapore, India, the EU and Canada there are digital identity projects based on biometric data. They open fast access to bank accounts, passport data, medical databases etc.
Digital identity provides many bonuses to users. However, at the same time, cybercriminals are constantly improving the methods of fraud. Even biometric data can be faked in a few minutes. For example, a German researcher copied the iris of Angela Merkel using an ordinary high-resolution photograph, printed the image on contact lenses and managed to trick the retina scanner.
Digitizing human experience is the way to the future. The world is gradually moving toward a time when individuals’ online identities match their real-life identities and provide a global and accurate view of who they are, what they do, and how they see themselves.