Government officials and business elites have expressed general support for digital identity technology at the conclusion of the recent G20 Summit.
The official G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration, a summation of the key points of agreement between the heads of state who gathered for the summit, expressed support for international collaboration on “trusted global digital health networks… that should capitalize and build on the success of the existing standards and digital COVID-19 certificates.” The Declaration went on to note that COVID-19 has “accelerated the transformation of the digital ecosystem and digital economy,” and underscored the importance of digital transformation in helping to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Meanwhile, the B20, or ‘Business 20’ – the official forum for business leaders to message G20 governments – issued policy recommendations including the promotion of digital infrastructure, of which key components were listed as cloud technologies, digital identification, digital payment systems, and digital signatures.
“The G20 should support the design of policies aimed at promoting digital identities as a building block for data privacy and digital trust,” the group wrote.
To that end, the B20 argued in favor of using innovative financing models such as Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), which source financing from the private sector with the expectation of both achieving philanthropic goals and getting a return on the investment. “The G20 should ask MDBs to support governments in developing and implementing digital identity schemes to bolster financial inclusion,” the group asserted.
There is already considerable momentum on that front. In September, for example, the Gates Foundation announced a $200 million fund for “Digital Public Infrastructure”, specifically highlighting digital ID as a tool of such infrastructure, which can low- and middle-income countries on a number of fronts including food security and disease prevention, while promoting economic growth. The Gates Foundation, announced the funding via its Goalkeepers event, which runs concurrently with the UN General Assembly in New York City.
The B20’s endorsement of digital identity goals through a business-oriented policy event that was itself a kind of adjunct to a global government meeting further illustrates that business and government leaders are coalescing around the promotion of digital ID technologies, paving the way for further rollouts and cross-border interoperability going forward.