Digital identity is one of the most significant technology trends in the world. Governments globally are recognizing the strategic advantages of transitioning from traditional physical identification to more adaptable digital ID systems that include reusable identity. Reusable digital identity credentials are less expensive to acquire, harder to steal, less cumbersome for their citizens, and spur digital economic activity. As a result, traditional document-based identity verification is moving toward obsolescence.
However, this evolution in digital identity management brings a growing need for new verification methods that focus on privacy and data security aligned with increasingly strict regulations. This revolutionary shift among organizations and governments provide identity verification (IDV) companies with a tremendous opportunity to expand their services and become leaders in the transition from physical to reusable digital identity verification.
The total addressable market for reusable identity in 2026 is estimated to be somewhere between $133B and $533B globally. IDV companies have the relationships and business processes needed to dominate this emerging market if they adopt the right technology strategy.
Reusable digital identity has several benefits for both organizations and the identity holder including:
Eliminates the need to re-verify end customers
No need to verify physical documents
Digital verification reduces operational costs
Improved end-customer experiences that can result in higher onboarding success rates
No need to store and manage databases of end-customer data
We’ll go over the key digital identity initiatives and regulations that IDV companies and their clients should be aware of and how offering reusable identity is essential to stay at the forefront of this global shift toward digital verification.
Overview of Key Digital Identity Initiatives Around the World
Here are just a few of many examples of government-led digital ID initiatives that are happening:
Digital Driver’s Licenses
Digital driver's license projects (also known as mobile driver's licenses) gathered momentum in countries including the USA, Korea, UK, Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands. Most of these countries are issuing their digital driver’s license credentials using the ISO mDL (mobile Driver’s License) standard. In 2023, California expanded a pilot program to allow citizens to get a digital driver’s license in this format which can be used for getting through airport security or proving your age when buying alcohol.
National eID Systems
Electronic identification (eID) systems are fast becoming the norm in various parts of the world, reflecting a concerted effort by governments to transition to a digital-first model for citizen services.
Here's a closer look at some of the eID programs in Asia, Europe, and other parts of the world:
Singapore’s SingPass is the country’s national digital identity system that has introduced features like "MyInfo" where users can give businesses only the necessary information, ensuring minimal data exposure. It uses advanced encryption and security measures to ensure the data is protected and only shared with user consent.
India's Aadhaar system is a digital national identity system that provides a unique identification number to Indian residents. Though Aadhaar was built with data user privacy in mind and complies with India's data regulations, it has received lots of criticism for its centralized approach and has been subject to multiple cyber attacks.
European countries tend to place a strong emphasis on user control, data minimalism, and encryption as central tenets of privacy in their eID systems.
The European Digital Identity initiative is a project launched by the European Commission to provide a digital identity to EU citizens, residents, and businesses so they can identify themselves or provide confirmation of certain personal information. The project is significant because it aims to enable access to digital services across the EU for online and offline public and private services while giving users control over which information is shared with third parties.
European Digital Identity is an essential step towards ensuring that people can participate in the digital ecosystem without any obstacles regardless of their socio-economic background. Every EU citizen and resident in the Union will be able to use a personal digital wallet, which will be used to store the European Digital Identity. The wallet will allow users to select the necessary documents that are required for identification purposes, making it easier to access services without having to repeatedly provide the same information.
Today, only about 60% of the EU population in 14 Member States are able to use their national eID cross-border, and the European Digital Identity will make it easier for people to access services across the EU. As services and businesses expand across borders within the EU, a standardized digital identity ensures that there are no roadblocks as a result of varied identification systems or incompatible standards.
Europe is testing the world’s first digital passport in Finland where travelers can cross its border with a digital passport held on their smartphone instead of using a physical passport. In the future, the EU wants at least 80% of citizens to be using a digital ID by 2030. The pilot program is running at Helsinki Airport as a partnership between Finnair, airport operator Finavia, and the Finnish police. Finnair passengers flying to and from three UK airports can pass through the border using their digital travel credential. The EU plans to expand other pilot programs in Croatia and the Netherlands.
Estonia is the world's first country to completely digitize public services with e-Estonia, a government initiative that includes e-Governance, e-Tax, digital ID, i-Voting, e-Health, and more. Citizens can file their taxes online in minutes, vote online, and sign up for many services without dealing with paper forms. Estonia is often praised as one of the frontrunners in digital governance and e-residency programs. They have integrated blockchain technology into various parts of their digital infrastructure, particularly for ensuring data integrity.
Netherlands’ DigiD is a digital identification system used by Dutch citizens to access many government services online. It uses strong authentication methods, ensuring that the users’ data remains private. The Dutch government has strict regulations about who can access this data and for what purposes, which is in line with GDPR guidelines.
Both Canada and the USA have recognized the need for robust digital identification systems that prioritize user privacy. Both countries continue to navigate the complex challenges of implementing nationwide digital identity systems that balance utility with privacy concerns.
The Pan-Canadian Trust Framework (PCTF), spearheaded by the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC), provides a set of standards for digital ID verification across Canada. It emphasizes user-centric principles, including transparency, control, and consent. The framework is designed to ensure that interoperable digital IDs can be used across provinces and territories while maintaining individual privacy.
The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) is a US government initiative announced in April 2011 to improve the privacy, security, and convenience of sensitive online transactions through collaborative efforts with the private sector, advocacy groups, government agencies, and other organizations.
Introduced by the Australian Taxation Office, myGovID serves as a digital identity verifier that enables Australians to access government services online. This digital identity solution offers a two-factor authentication system, where a user's identity is matched with their smartphone. The process is designed to ensure that personal data remains secure and that only the necessary details are shared during transactions. Users have control over what data is shared and when.
United Nations and World Bank
Their ID4D initiative aims to provide everyone in the world with a legal identity by 2030 in order for people to exercise their rights and access better services. These are in line with the Sustainable Development goals, especially as countries transition to digital economics, governments, and societies.
Impact on IDV Companies
The global shift towards digital ID initiatives is becoming increasingly evident. Historically, IDV verification companies have been rooted in the verification of physical documents. From passports to driver’s licenses, tangible documentation has been the gold standard for confirming an individual's identity.
However, as countries and corporations adopt and champion digital ID initiatives, the spotlight is shifting from this traditional method of verification to a more streamlined, digital approach. This doesn't just represent a technological evolution but a fundamental rethinking of IDV's core processes and business models.
For IDV companies, this shift means adapting or risking obsolescence. Adapting to this changing landscape is not just about adopting new technology but about reshaping their entire approach to identity verification. Those that seize the opportunity to innovate in line with these global digital ID initiatives will position themselves as leaders in a rapidly evolving industry. On the other hand, companies that remain anchored to solely physical document verification risk being left behind in a digital age.
Growing Digital ID Regulations
As technology continues to evolve, it's likely that digital identity and data protection laws will continue to adapt in response. Two major initiatives, the updated eIDAS regulation in the European Union and the UK's Online Safety Bill, create opportunities for Identity Verification (IDV) companies to expand their services.
The European Union (EU) electronic IDentification, Authentication, and trust Services (eIDAS) regulation came into effect in 2016 and aimed to establish a framework for secure and seamless electronic transactions across EU member states. The first major update to eIDAS, commonly called eIDAS 2, is nearing completion. Among other goals, the update incorporates into the regulation the principles of decentralized identity technology to help protect privacy and enhance data security in electronic transactions.
Specifically, it updates the standards for national IDs to include newer technologies such as verifiable credential, establishes a framework for interoperable consumer identity wallets, and encourages the use of identity credentials in commercial transactions. This regulation intends to empower 400 million citizens with interoperable identity wallets each containing legal identity credentials issued directly by their national government. They will be able to interact within an ecosystem of commercial credential issuers and verifiers in order to transact their business both online and in person.
By preparing in advance, IDV companies can gain a first-mover advantage in this new identity marketplace, establishing their brand and services as industry benchmarks.
Impact on IDV companies and their clients
Rising demand for digital identity verification: As eIDAS mandates secure electronic transactions, businesses and platforms operating within the EU will inevitably need to adopt eIDAS-compliant digital identity verification solutions. This spike in demand offers IDV companies an opportunity to expand their clientele.
Less physical document verification: new digital identity formats are imminent, namely the government issued identity credentials stored in wallets that are compliant with the EU’s digital identity wallet framework. Your clients will soon need and want to verify and consume this data from their end-customers.
Wider markets as a result of unified standards: eIDAS introduces standardized electronic identification across EU states. For IDV companies, this means once they align with eIDAS requirements, their services automatically become relevant and applicable to all EU members and citizens, opening up a vast market.
Regulatory compliance: IDV companies that meet eIDAS standards can smoothly operate across all EU member states, reducing legal complications and ensuring seamless operations.
Enhanced trust:With the robust privacy and data security measures embedded in the eIDAS framework, compliant IDV companies can assure their clients enhanced protection, building trust and reliability.
Lead the transition from physical to digital identity verification:
The landscape of identity verification is evolving. Investing in research and development into reusable digital identity formats ensures that IDV companies remain at the cutting-edge, offering solutions that are both innovative and compliant with eIDAS standards.
This is a legislative attempt to curtail underage access to inappropriate content on the internet by requiring platforms to have robust age-verification processes. The requirement for stringent age verification on multiple online platforms opens up a market for IDV companies to offer innovative services not just within the UK, but also for any platform with UK users. The bill also has two additional provisions that will benefit from identity based solutions: to allow bereaved parents access to social media accounts of deceased minors and for the government to explore ways to identify trusted sources online and reduce disinformation.
Impact on Identity Verification Vendors
1. Increased demand: The bill mandates rigorous age verification checks for various online platforms, which boosts the demand for identity verification services.
2. Concerns with friction: Online platforms will desire seamless solutions that don’t increase friction and damage the end-customer experience. Solutions that implement reusable digital identity capabilities will help your clients implement a frictionless verification experience.
3. Shift in service dynamics: Previously, many IDV checks were one-off verifications. However, as the online world becomes more interactive and dynamic, there's a push towards continuous or recurrent verifications. This could lead to a shift from single-use IDV checks to more reusable identity solutions.
4. Become trusted authorities in the industry: By preparing early, IDV companies can establish themselves as reputable leaders that instill confidence in potential clients. Offering training and educational resources to platforms about the importance of robust IDV checks, especially in the context of the Online Safety Bill, can enhance the reputation and credibility of IDV vendors.
How IDV Companies Can Be Industry Leaders in the Transition Towards Digital ID Verification
As governments and institutions globally implement digital identity solutions, it’s essential for identity verification companies who want to be at the forefront of this transformation to anticipate the growing demand for digital ID verification and prepare their operations and infrastructure. A growing number of IDVs’ clients will need to adapt and have a way to verify more digital identity formats.
Identity verification companies that adopt verifiable credential technology will be better positioned than their competitors to provide their clients with a reusable identity, reduce verification costs, and be ahead of the curve in enabling the adoption of digital ID verification.
Verifiable credentials are digital tamper-proof representations of traditional identification documents, such as licenses or academic certificates. Using cryptographic techniques, these credentials can be authenticated and verified instantly to ensure their legitimacy and integrity.
The transition from physical to digital ID verification isn't a challenge, it's an opportunity. It's a chance for identity verification companies to guide their clients into a new era of secure and efficient digital identity solutions. With the right tools, foresight, and adaptive strategies, these companies can lead the way, particularly by expanding their services to include a reusable digital identity that can be used in an ecosystem of services and organizations.
Dock’s team of expert developers in privacy-preserving digital identity technology can guide IDV companies on how to integrate digital verification solutions into your existing services.
The rising interest in reusable identity stems from its potential to streamline digital interactions, improve user experience, and offer enhanced security. With the growing number of data regulations, increasing number of sectors adopting digital identity management practices, and growing number of government-led digital identity initiatives around the world, it’s essential that identity verification companies have the tools to adapt to these rapidly changing digital identity trends.
By leveraging Dock’s tools, identity verification companies have the opportunity to become leaders in the transition from physical to digital identity verification. Both organizations and individuals can enjoy the many benefits of an enhanced user experience, increased data security, privacy, and lower verification costs.
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