The pandemic had brought with it a new wave of digital transformation initiatives as organisations rapidly turn to public cloud adoption to meet their business and operational needs. Today, groceries are purchased through e-marketplaces, remote learning, working from home, managing of our banking transactions and doctor’s consultations – more interactions are taking place online and on the cloud than ever before.
Against this backdrop, it is critical for every citizen to have a trusted digital identity. These identities allow us to verify who we say we are, creating trust in a non-physical environment that enables us to interact and transact in a way that is authenticated and safe.
On the business front, organisations that are now navigating the new “digital norm” need to have the capabilities to authenticate the digital identities of their customers through secure eKYC (Electronic Know Your Customer) processes in a seamless manner.
By getting the digital identity right, organisations can gain increased efficiency, improved business bottom-line, and transformational benefits with enhanced user experiences for their customers.
Utilising the digital identity
Digital identity is core to any organisation’s business model and operations. Through proper identity management, organisations can improve the customer digital experience journey and help establish a strong competitive edge for the business.
Putting up roadblocks or barriers to entry through multiple authentication points can diminish the customer experience and inhibit their interactions with the organisation. Features such as digital signatures will also greatly enhance convenience for consumers to authenticate their documents while simultaneously reduce processing time and resources for the business.
An identity access management system that automates processes such as the validation and registration of new customers also helps organisations increase their operational and cost efficiencies. With automation, IT teams no longer have to be the gatekeepers for authorising users and giving permissions for them to interact with the organisation or its services.
Finally, organisations that demonstrate their commitment to securing personal and confidential information can also protect their brand integrity, fostering trust from investors and customers. A strong reputation of prioritising privacy standards can also lead to stronger customer loyalty and cultivate repeat customers.
A well-designed identity management system will help eliminate website and application login friction, and features that smoothen authentication processes will ensure a more seamless customer journey and enhance the customer experience.
Ethics of personal privacy and data
But before businesses jump on board the digital identity bandwagon, it is imperative that they first understand the risks associated with such systems, assess how the technology can fit into their existing business processes and take the necessary measures to mitigate these risks.
If improperly managed, the capture, storage and use of sensitive personal data may lead to increased risks to privacy violations, data theft and misuse, and identity fraud.
At the same time, as any technology matures and evolves, new risks may emerge. Technical design changes may introduce previously unknown vulnerabilities that are not apparent until exploited.
Digital identity systems therefore require strong legal and regulatory frameworks and a privacy-and-security-by-design approach to mitigate these risks and ensure data protection and user control. These systems should also be scalable, regularly monitored and patched to identify potential vulnerabilities.
When choosing the right identity access management system, organisations need to ensure that it meets compliance requirements on a global scale, as well as the integration of an end-to-end security solution that contributes to a secure digital environment. Alternatively, organisations may also choose not to reinvent the wheel, and instead leverage existing, highly trusted digital identity systems developed by their national agencies.
Benefitting from a national digital identity system
In ASEAN, countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, have already fully digitised their foundational identity systems. An example is Singapore’s online account management for access to government e-services, Singapore Personal Access (SingPass), which has evolved as a gateway to allow access to over 300 digital services offered by more than 60 government agencies and some private sector entities.
By taking advantage of a national digital identity system like SingPass, businesses can avoid the high costs of operating their own authentication systems, while integrating a variety of features in the form of APIs into their digital services to improve user journeys and streamline operations.
For a start, citizens are able to avoid repeatedly providing and verifying the same personal information when transacting online. Businesses can use the system’s APIs to obtain information from individuals upon their consent – an especially useful service for banks and financial institutions to streamline online applications and instant approvals for bank account opening, credit card applications and loan applications. The new addition of the “Sign with SingPass” feature is also particularly useful in an increasingly contactless world, allowing users to digitally sign electronic documents in a highly secure manner.
Furthermore, given that these systems are issued by the government, businesses and consumers can be assured that digital IDs are verified and authenticated to a high degree of assurance. Such integration creates a trusted digital ecosystem where data and services can transcend the boundaries of organisations.
Digital identity is about business benefits and the ability of an organisations to leverage digitalisation in a responsible way. The opportunities that digital IDs bring are growing as technology improves, implementation costs decline, and access to smartphones and the internet increases daily. The decisions that organisations make concerning digital identity strategies and operations will define the customers’ digital experience, bridging a path to success in the organisation’s long-term digitalisation roadmap.
David Chan is Managing Director at AdNovum Singapore