Accenture, Avanade and Microsoft have developed a blockchain and biometric solution to support ID2020, a global public-private partnership dedicated to solving the challenges faced by 1.1 billion people worldwide who do not have an official identity.
Currently a sixth of the world's population cannot access education, healthcare, voting, banking, mobile communications, housing, and family and childcare benefits because they do not have documented proof of their existence. Formed of governments, non-governmental organisations, technology providers and experts from the public and private sectors, the ID2020 consortium aims to make digital identity a reality through technology.
Working in partnership with Microsoft and Avanade, Accenture has developed an identity prototype based on blockchain technology – a type of database system that enables multiple parties to share access to the same data with an extremely high level of confidence and security.
Running on the Microsoft Azure cloud, Accenture’s new prototype is designed to give individuals direct consent over who has access to their personal information, and when they can release and share data.
The prototype is a decentralised, or distributed database architecture, which is maintained by multiple trusted parties on the blockchain, rather than a central authority. It does not store any personally identifiable information, instead it taps into existing ‘off-chain’ identity systems when the individual user grants access.
“People without a documented identity suffer by being excluded from modern society,” said David Treat, a managing director in Accenture’s global blockchain business. “Our prototype is personal, private and portable, empowering individuals to access and share appropriate information when convenient and without the worry of using or losing paper documentation.”
Accenture and Microsoft – founding alliance partners of ID2020 who have pledged financial and technology resources – demonstrated the prototype at the ID2020 Summit at the United Nations headquarters.
“We believe that identity is one of the most important needs in international development and an area where Microsoft and the private sector are uniquely positioned to contribute,” said Yorke Rhodes, global business strategist at Microsoft. “We are thrilled to work with Accenture and bring Microsoft Azure’s global scale, flexibility and security to support ID2020 and make progress on this critical societal need.”
To solve problems faced by people who lack official identities, Accenture will also leverage its Unique Identity Service Platform to deploy a biometrics system that can manage fingerprints, iris and other data. For example, the technology could provide undocumented refugees with a personal identity record, ensuring that they can receive assistance where and when they need it.
The Accenture Platform is the heart of the Biometric Identity Management System currently used by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which has enrolled more than 1.3 million refugees in 29 countries across Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. The system is expected to support more than 7 million refugees from 75 countries by 2020.
“This is a great example of design and technology coming together to address the challenges facing so many vulnerable individuals in our society today,” said Lorna Ross, group director at Accenture’s Fjord Design Studio at The Dock. “We hope that this work will galvanise efforts globally towards a solution that guarantees the right to an identity for the invisible everywhere.”