Digital Identification: A Key to Inclusive Growth

In an era of rapid technological change, digital identification provides a significant opportunity for value creation for individuals and institutions. Nearly one billion people globally lack a legally recognized form of identification, according to the World Bank ID4D database. The remaining 6.6 billion people have some form of identification, but over half cannot use it effectively in today’s digital ecosystems. Individuals can use digital identification, or “digital ID,” to be verified unambiguously through a digital channel, unlocking access to banking, government benefits, education, and many other critical services. Programs employing this relatively new technology have had mixed success to date—many have failed to attain even modest levels of usage, while a few have achieved large-scale implementation. Yet well-designed digital ID not only enables civic and social empowerment, but also makes possible real and inclusive economic gains—a less well understood aspect of the technology. The political risks and bene ts of digital ID are potentially significant and deserve careful attention but are beyond the scope of this report. Here, we develop a framework to understand the potential economic impact of digital ID, informed by an analysis of nearly 100 ways in which digital ID can be used, with deep dives into seven diverse economies: Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States. …

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