Papua New Guinea’s new Digizen digital ID program could be key to unlocking financial inclusion for the majority of citizens who live without a formal ID. In Cyprus, a digital initiative will allow citizens to access digital IDs through a new app. Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens can activate digital IDs online, while Barbados removes a hard deadline to apply for digital IDs altogether.
Digizen ID could promote financial inclusion in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea’s digital identification, Digizen ID, could be key in bringing financial inclusion to the majority of its citizens who lack access because of a lack of a formal ID, according to Business Advantage PNG.
“Around 80 per cent of Papua New Guineans lack ID documents and, for individuals, that means they are excluded from financial services and they are stuck in poverty,” said Digizen CEO Kimmo Koivisto at the Innovation PNG 2023 conference.
Lack of a formal slows economic growth by limiting who can participate in the formal economy.
Under the supervision of the Bank of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Digizen has implemented a method of obtaining a digital ID even if a citizen does not have any previous ID or a mobile phone.
Officers from MiBank and MamaBank, two microfinance institutions, use a tablet-based enrolment system that can operate offline to capture face and fingerprint biometrics. Identities are then confirmed by a local community authority such as a village chief.
Identities are then confirmed by community authorities such as the village chief. The process reduces time to confirm identity from “months to minutes. A whole village can be done in a day,” said Koivisto.
The pilot program is backed by the Asian Development Bank, who has funded a number of other projects for financial inclusion.
So far, 2,500 Wewak and Maprik-based farmers and traders have enrolled in the trial and were immediately able to open bank accounts. They were able to use their new ID cards to immediately open bank accounts.
“The central bank now needs to take the next step in terms of its regulatory standard around customer due diligence and make a decision whether the biometrics that are captured under this digital project will be sufficient to meet full KYC [Know Your Customer] criteria,” says Tony Westaway, CEO of MiBank.
As of today, commercial banks still require a passport or driver’s license to open an account.
The Bank of PNG launched the digital ID pilot for the program back in 2022.
Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina ramp up digital govt initiatives
Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides announced a series of policies to promote a digital citizen initiative that leverages digital IDs and electronic signatures to sign up for government services at the 2024 Governance Program, according to KNews.
The initiative features an app that would allow citizens to sign applications for benefits and formal documents electronically. Digital passports and other official documents would be accessed through the digital citizenship app.
At the same time, Representatives from the Agency for Identification Documents, Records and Data Exchange of Bosnia and Herzegovina (IDDEEA) said at a press conference that citizens will be now able to activate their digital IDs on the agency’s website, according to Sarajevo Times.
Citizens can use the site to view personal records, check the status of violations, and sign documents digitally. The government plans to implement a digital wallet in line with Europe’s regulations by the end of 2024.
Barbados ditches deadline for digital ID applications
Meanwhile, in Barbados, the Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology Marsha Caddle announced that the government is removing the January 31st deadline to apply for the new national ID card instead of extending it. Barbadians can still use their old IDs.
As of January 26, 243,320 out of 269,090 Barbadians had registered for digital IDs including 108,338 people over the age of 50, according to a Ministerial Statement. Because of the widespread uptake, the government does not need to urge those who haven’t done so yet.
Barbados | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Cyprus | digital government | digital ID | financial inclusion | Papua New Guinea