Innovation in Digital Identity and Credentials in the Post-Covid World

What innovation is needed in digital identity for the post-covid world? Sang Shin, Director of Digital Innovation at Temasek answers for us.
Nov 15, 2021

Digital identity is the next big leap as we embark on digitizing an aspect that uniquely represents each of us. What started as baby steps to empower oneself and have complete control over one’s identity, soon evolved into a movement, and led to the emergence of what’s called the Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI).

The need for SSI was accentuated by the COVID pandemic, where all activities moved online, and there was a greater awareness about owning and protecting one’s identity.

Is this the beginning of a paradigm shift? What can companies do to increase the adoption of SSI in the post-COVID world?

We asked Sang Shin, the Director of Digital Innovation at Singapore-based Temasek, and here are the excerpts of this interview.

What are the key trends that will shape the post-COVID world?

Though the infrastructure for this migration from a physical to a digital world was already in place, what was missing was a change in user behavior, and the COVID pandemic brought about this behavioral change.

During the pandemic, users had to forcefully embrace the digital world to continue on with their everyday activities, and this eventually conditioned them to not just adapt well, but also make it an integral part of their lives now. In this sense, COVID was a catalyst for the digitization of mankind.

COVID also showed us the power of a multidisciplinary approach, innovation, and collaboration of data, all of which led to novel ways of controlling and managing the disease, and this multidisciplinary approach is another key shift towards digitization.

When you extend this learning to digital identity, it translates to having an open mind and collaborating with different entities to enhance the quick adoption of SSI.

How to leverage these trends and create a lasting transformation?

A difficult question, given the complexity of the digital identity space and the many known and unknown factors working within it.

To build on what we have created and to sustain it, there needs to be a concerted effort from everyone involved such as the regulatory authorities, users, and companies operating in the private and public space.

In many ways, this is a multi-dimensional playing field. At the grassroots or bottoms-up level is the users’ drive to own their digital identity while at the top-down level, organizations must create a working economic model, and the two should meet at the midway point of the activity to ensure a digital identity solution that would work for both these entities.

The third component in this mix is the legislative and sovereign laws that are underneath all these activities. This is probably the most important aspect of sustainability because a sovereign nation must demand a secure digital identity for its residents.

All these three aspects have to come together for a lasting transformation.

The digital identity wallet announcement by the EU is seen as a stimulus for greater adoption of digital identity. What can companies do from hereon?

Companies must collaborate with entities from the private and public sector and take a multi-disciplinary approach to understand the needs of different user segments and come up with products that would cater to these needs.

Secondly, companies can strive to make an intelligent prediction of the general shift instead of making very specific predictions because of the many unknown aspects that can suddenly change the dynamics, like a new legislation or a change of government. To this end, it’s best to stay away from high-risk areas that are too dependent on sovereign legislation.

Alongside, it’s important to educate users and developers about the possible use-cases and market opportunities of self-sovereign identity, so companies can leverage this positive change in user behavior.

Finally and most importantly, companies must build an economic and incentivization model that creates a win-win situation for everyone involved. For example, offer discounts and better services for using the digital identity solution, and so on.

What’s the single most important aspect that can shape the future of digital identity?

A person’s identity is the most personal thing that one can digitize because it represents YOU.

Though we often get lost in technologies, frameworks, legislation, and economic models, it’s ultimately the human aspect that will define the future of the digital identity industry. Bearing this in mind can determine the heights we scale and how quickly we can get there.

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