Identity verification is a process that helps determine the accuracy of the information presented by an individual. It allows you to confirm the legality of the document, perform security analysis and identify the client so that we have no doubts that he is who he claims to be. Remote identity verification accelerated this process and made it possible for customers to verify themselves from anywhere in the world. Also, these changes were developed during a pandemic, in which something as obvious as settling the matter at a location in an office or a bank was no longer possible. Identity verification is crucial for the economy. In many sectors, especially financial ones, this is a mandatory regulation, and the lack of a comprehensive process that facilitates the functioning of the company becomes an unnecessary complication and can cause customer outflow or problems such as theft or fraud.
Identity verification has a great impact on society. Matters that we do not consider too much daily, have a specific impact on the functioning of people in society, shaping certain civic attitudes or improving social disparities. How does identity verification affect the functioning of society in public space?
The lack of accurate verification is a problem faced by the world, especially its developing regions. There are some economic and social difficulties associated with this. According to reports by McKinsey Research, approximately one billion people do not have any legal form of identification, such as birth certificates, ID cards, passports, or driving licenses. The lack of these documents prevents access to basic services. Lack of primary health care, inability to settle any matter at the office, sign a contract, take a loan, set up a bank account, or even pick up a parcel at the post office are just a few examples proving how much proper identification is needed. The introduction of digital identifiers and remote identity verification are matters that translate into the economic value of many countries, including more formalization of economic flows, involving more people in the flow of services or increasing the level of trust. The analysis carried out by McKinsey Research shows that individual countries can record GDP growth from 3 – 13% thanks to the introduction of digital identification. In India, this increase would be 6%, in Nigeria 7%, and in Brazil 13%. Developing countries would benefit the most. Identity verification is just starting to emerge there, and limited access to ID documents remains an issue.
Identity verification also means money saved. It can be most noticed in the processes of introducing new employees. Streamlined onboarding processes that leverage remote verification could cut implementation costs by up to 90% and reduce payroll fraud, saving $ 1.6 billion worldwide. We spend most of our time at work, it takes up a significant part of our lives and allows us to fulfill ourselves in various fields. Companies and institutions notice shortcomings in the implementation process, look for solutions that can reduce the number of steps and documentation, as well as increase the employee’s comfort and attachment to a new job. The situation improved significantly in the last few years. The data from 2015 said that 22% of companies did not have a formal implementation program, only 37% of companies extended the implementation program for more than a month, and 88% of employees had a negative opinion about the onboarding process in their company. The data from 2019 indicate that special implementation programs allow you to increase employee retention by up to 25% and improve their performance by 11%, and more and more companies are willing to start the implementation process before the first day of a new employee.
Digital identification and verification processes can also certify the validity of references, as well as contribute to less worker exploitation. Specialists pay attention to the formation of a new worker caste, the so-called ghost workers. Companies find such employees on unregistered platforms. They do not employ them permanently and additionally give up providing them with appropriate social conditions to cut costs. Image and content labeling, database cleaning, and location addressing projects are done by around 20 million people – cheap labor from Malaysia, the Philippines, India, and China. Proper identity verification could improve unregulated working conditions and the possibility of age confirmation would also reduce child labor abuse. Currently, it is one of the biggest problems in developing countries that have a huge impact on functioning in society.
Identity verification can significantly contribute to eliminating some of the gender inequalities. Women in developing countries would then have the opportunity to access banking services, health care, or government social assistance. The difference in the possession of identity documents is noticeable. Approximately 45% of women over the age of 15 do not have any identity documents, compared to 30% of men. In some countries, these results are even higher, e.g. in Bangladesh, Uganda, or Zambia, more than 80% of women do not have identity documents, and in Botswana or Malawi even 90%.
The biggest disproportion can be seen in Afghanistan – 52% of women and only 6% of men do not have ID cards. Much of this is due to a cultural approach in which the man has most of the privileges and rights, and the women cannot make basic decisions about themselves. A major part of reducing inequality is the remote verification that helps you access documents like Tazkira. This card allows access to voting, public services, obtaining a passport, driving license, or opening a bank account. 2018 brought a significant change – e-Tazkira was introduced, and in the application form, women did not have to enter the name of their husband or father but submit an application as household owners. Similar changes took place in Pakistan. By updating its digital database and identifying women, the government was able to send money to their bank accounts. A significant improvement in the allocation of funds was noticed. Most of the money was spent on education or nutrition compared to when men had resources. Such changes show that progress is not possible if a significant part of society does not officially exist and cannot function on the same basis.
Identity verification can also influence and shape our civic attitudes. E-voting is a form of election which is supposed to activate the electorate in the best possible way. Voting may be carried out in polling stations with the use of special machines. Votes can be cast via the Internet, and a special electoral system takes care of their acceptance and counting. Electronic voting in many countries is at different stages of development. It can complement the traditional electoral solution or be a basic one.
An example of a country that allows online voting in Estonia. The country introduced the first attempts at this method in 2001. Estonia relies heavily on digital identification methods. The online voting procedure uses electronic evidence, voters are properly verified, and everything is done to the highest security standards. E-voting in Estonia is complementary to the normal process and you can vote online for several days, from anywhere in the world. Another country that tested the possibilities of electronic voting in 1982 was Brazil. The first elections, in which one hundred percent of the voters voted using electronic ballots, took place in 2000. Since then, many laws have been introduced to regulate security, information encryption, as well as signature verification, and attempts to introduce biometric verification. Brazil has become a mentor to many countries testing e-voting opportunities, for example for Germans, Belgians, Americans, Koreans, Italians, Japanese, and Argentineans. When it comes to electronic voting, security is a priority. Proper identity verification of people entitled to vote not only prevents attempts of forgery and fraud but also allows voting for people who are abroad or work and cannot go to the polling station. In countries that have problems with voter turnout, such solutions could help activate the part of the society and positively influence the formation of civic attitudes.
Trust is one of the basic parts of social capital. It allows you to maintain overall prosperity as well as develop the economic situation. The trust we have in other people or public institutions also translates into the level of trust on the Internet. Feeling that there is a real person on the other side is very important. Sweden is the country with the highest and most consistent level of trust. In the Nordic countries, different services are easily accessible through efficient identity verification. In Sweden, Norway or Finland 98% of services are available after verifying your identity. By comparison, in Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania the availability of services is only 40%. Identity verification can significantly improve social functioning. Also, companies and institutions that use verification raise the level of trust and are much more professional in the eyes of customers.
The social impact of identity verification is significant, but very often we don’t pay a lot of attention to it. The number of possibilities that digital identification gives us is of great value. It can influence inclusiveness and can eliminate the exclusion of certain social groups or activate the society and contribute to the promotion of certain civic behavior. The most important, however, seems to be the impact that verification has on increasing trust in society. Companies and institutions that decide to use this form of protection against potential fraudsters gain in the eyes of customers and create a sense of security for both parties.