The South Korean government is planning to use blockchain technology as the foundation for its digital IDs, according to a Bloomberg report. The digital IDs will be available to anyone with a smartphone.
The plan is to begin rolling out digital IDs in 2024, with government officials aiming to get about 45 million citizens signed up within two year. That in itself is expected to result in considerable administrative savings for the government, potentially amounting to 60 trillion won, or about $42 billion, over the decade after the IDs make their debut.
The move is expected to facilitate a more full transition to digital infrastructure, with Suh Bo Ram, the director of the country’s digital government bureau, commenting, “Every service that hasn’t been able to transition online fully will now be able to do so.”
Suh explained that because of the program’s decentralized approach to identity, the government will not be able to access digital ID information on individual smartphones, thereby protecting the privacy of end users. The use of blockchain would also carry the benefit of preventing hackers from being able to access any central database of citizens’ PII.
The announcement offers the latest sign of the Korean government’s strong interest in digital identity technology. Earlier this year, the government conducted a six-month pilot of a mobile driver’s license system that allowed participants to use a virtual version of their driver’s license stored in their smartphone.
The plans to make smartphones central to the forthcoming blockchain-based digital ID system suggest more widespread use of such mobile driver’s licenses, likely alongside other important identity documents.
South Korean authorities first revealed their experimentation with blockchain-based digital ID last year, when a solution called “B Pass” was trialled in Busan, a designated regulatory sandbox for blockchain technology.