Crypto Corner: Digital ID

Do you remember back when the Coronavirus vaccine first became available and there was all this chatter about a “COVID passport” becoming a thing? Well… as with most things that people chatter about, there is a grain of truth to it, but it’s not this horrible monster it has been made out to be. In fact, it’s a simple extension of technology we already use and enjoy… if anything, it’s a stab at making our current tech tools better by “tying it all together” for the sake of convenience and security.

But it’s not called a “COVID passport”, it’s called a “health passport”, and it has already been developed many times over by different entities. One such project is the brainchild of a partnership between the Mayo Clinic and a startup health technology company called Safe Health Group. This group’s app pulls together information on Coronavirus, sexually transmitted diseases, and other common medical conditions to provide real-time health status verification. It’s called HealthCheck.

But what does that have to do with a digital ID and cryptocurrency? Well… as we live more and more in the digital world, we need to find a way to make sure that not only is everyone able to participate, but that people can get verified, quick access to things they need to go about their lives. Things like their driver’s license, state issued ID, vaccine records, travel documents, and their medical records… we need these items to get things done, like going to school, work, and traveling.

Unfortunately, it has become almost impossible for all of us to cart around all the documents and information on ourselves that we need all the time. Not only that, but proving who we are, and getting access to what we need, when we need it, is becoming more complicated. To some, there is a single proposal that could put these worries to rest… it has the possibility to unify everything having to do with a person, and prove that they are who they say they are, and that’s a digital ID.

Understanding The Digital ID

So… what exactly is a digital ID? Since the term has become such a go-to for clickbait opportunists, it has been tossed around and mystified a bit, so let’s simplify. Technically, a digital ID is a reusable proof of your identity that has been issued by a trusted authority with defined levels of assurance. Or, to put it more plainly, it’s a digital file that holds all the information about you that exists in digital form. And, most importantly, a body with the authority to do so has verified that it is in fact your identifying information.

Now, that can be as simple as your name and date of birth, or as complicated as all your activity across the internet. The important thing is to understand that it holds information about you that proves who you are, but instead of a piece of paper or a card, it’s a digital file. If you have car insurance, you probably already understand this principle because it’s likely your car insurance card is digital, and you have a copy on an app on your phone.

Who Wants One?

Governments and businesses are very interested in the potentials of digital identities… with some already introducing them. One such example is the UK, where recently the government announced plans to introduce a digital ID program. And, surprisingly, people aren’t fighting back. The public seems to understand the need for this technology right now. According to a recent survey of UK consumers, 78% cited digital identity to prove who they say they are as important, especially when conducting financial transactions. Which brings us to our tie-in with cryptocurrencies…

Over the last few years, digitization has sped up… all things are moving online, even our money. The world has taken notice, it’s time for a digital ID that can be utilized with a digital currency, with both tied to our identity. A digital ID could tie together identity with the ability to access our money and essential services, such as vaccination programs, disaster and pandemic relief payouts, funds from social services, and other financial programs essential to keeping economies moving.

The Future Is Already Here

But if all this sounds like something far off, like something that would take a long time… it’s already here. The infrastructure is already being put in place and some places are already successfully launching digital identity and payment systems. One such example is India, which recently had their program praised by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. And leadership there is already exploring options for linking regional CBDCs with a wider network of digital ID and payment systems in Asia.

Think of it this way, you access a different site and database for each of your accounts… your bank, credit card, loyalty programs, memberships, airline accounts, social networks. Proving who we are, logging in, and doing what you need to do is currently risky and complicated. Hackers and deep fakes are becoming more prevalent, thieves more sophisticated. If a digital ID were a properly implemented thing, we would only need one ID to access everything.

Right now, it’s not important to focus on the specific company or app… bit it is important to learn and understand the possible applications of a digital ID. This is especially true over time, as these technologies evolve and we learn more about how they pertain to money, travel, health, and really… all aspects of our lives. As the world continues to rush toward digitization, we’ll keep rushing you the information you need to stay at the forefront of everything crypto. We’ll see you next week!