The government of Barbados has confirmed that it is planning to supply citizens with mobile identity cards. The country is currently in the process of replacing laminated ID cards with a more advanced National Trident ID card, but it wants to supplement those physical cards with a digital version that can be stored in an app on a standard smartphone.
The news comes courtesy of Davidson Ishmael, Barbados’ Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology. Ishmael made the announcement at the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) digital conference, and framed the mobile IDs as part of a broader digital transformation for the country at large.
In that regard, Ishmael indicated that residents would be able to use their digital IDs for authentication when accessing online services, and as valid proof of identity in in-person interactions. He then hinted that the government is close to signing a new partnership with a leading cybersecurity provider to protect its digital infrastructure. Security has become a greater concern in Barbados in the past few months, after a massive malware attack forced the country to shut down its IT platform.
A partnership with a new security provider should help alleviate some of those concerns. Barbados has also created a cybersecurity working group (with private sector representatives) to develop cybersecurity policies for the entire country.
According to Ishmael, the government will invest as much as $40 million USD in its modernization scheme. The country has already launched an EZPay+ service that lets people pay for government services online, and created an online portal that business owners can use to apply for liquor licenses. In the future, the country will set up a new digitization center in Vaucluse, St Thomas, and turn Bridgetown into a smart city with free internet access and features like computer-controlled parking and traffic management.
The ambitious plans suggest that Barbados is ready to move forward quickly now that it has become an independent republic. The country elected its first president in late 2021, and partnered with HID Global to start issuing passports in February. The digital ID news reflects a broader international trend, with an increasing number of countries now laying the groundwork for their own national digital identity programs.
Source: Barbados Today