The World Economic Forum (WEF) is calling attention to a new app that uses blockchain technology to provide a legal digital identity to those without more traditional documentation. The solution was intended to raise social and financial inclusion, giving vulnerable populations a way to prove their identity when they go to vote, open a bank account, or access healthcare.
The app itself was developed by AID:Tech, under the direction of Co-Founder and CEO Joseph Thompson. He discussed the inspiration for the project at the WEF’s recent Pioneers of Change Summit, explaining that the company first turned to the blockchain in an effort to make charitable donations more transparent. In that regard, the app allows organizations to track individual donations to make sure that money makes its way to the intended recipient.
However, the app’s utility goes well beyond the distribution of charitable funds. One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is to make sure that every person has a legal identity by 2030. The number of people without an ID has dropped from 1.5 billion to 987 million since 2016, but that means that there are still nearly 1 billion people without identification.
The AID:Tech app can help lower that number even further. The WEF noted that there are now 600 million people who have a smartphone but do not have a bank account, and instead use their phones (and payment apps) to manage their finances. Those transaction logs can help establish someone’s personal history, and can in turn serve as the foundation for a digital ID that is only accessible to the owner of that identity.
MarketsandMarkets has predicted that the market for digital identity solutions will reach $30.5 billion by 2024. AID:Tech’s offerings are now being used in financial inclusion and identity projects in Africa, Europe, and Southeast Asia, while the company itself was part of Mastercard’s Start Path accelerator back in 2017.