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Orange Group's digital identity initiatives

Orange Group's digital identity initiatives

By Jean-michel canto, vp e-commerce and digital transformation orange mea, frédéric reboulleau, marketing enabler director/open developer services orange group - February 18, 2019

Regulation 3246979 1280

The question of digital identity has become critical insofar as it forms the foundation for the development of digital uses in the field of e-government, as well as in that of the digital economy (e-commerce, e-banking, etc.). More and more governments have digital identity projects, in particular in biometrics. Many initiatives are also being launched by telecommunications operators and international institutions such as the World Bank with its "Identification for Development" program, the African Development Bank and the European Union.

The digitization of administrative processes is of central importance for governments in all countries across the world. It facilitates population census, State security and efficiency in the relationship between administrations and citizens and economic players. Its success is based on "digital identity", a digital identification and authentication solution for each individual, which needs to be simple and secure to enable trust. Orange, a multiservice telecom operator, is taking position on this emerging market, in partnership with major players in the ecosystem.

Using digital identity, States can create a biometric database of their citizens. Governments and administrations use this database to:

  • take population census, of central importance in MEA zone countries, where births and deaths are not always officially recorded.
  • assess and monitor their flows.
  • reinforce State security in the face of terrorism, cybercrime and changes in international regulations.
  • offer a range of services that promote the fluidity of relations with citizens and the economic development of Countries, in particular financial inclusion (payment of State subsidies to the most disadvantaged citizens).

In Rwanda, for example, the digitization of many government services (passport renewal, identity card application, criminal record, marriage certificate, business start-up formalities, digital payment of taxes and public services, etc.) has significantly boosted the economy all the while allowing administrations to substantially curb their spending and fight corruption.

The challenges and issues at stake in developing digital identification solutions

Demographic and geographic coverage of the territory is an issue of major importance. To play its role in digital inclusion, the digital identification solution must motivate the population to register throughout the country.

Financial inclusion is another key success factor. A range of “incentive” services that provide citizens with a rapid return on investment thus needs to be worked out. For example, a telephone line opened in their name, payment of their student fellowship, pension, etc. In this regard, countries whose digital transformation is supported by the World Bank will be able to request the latter's financial support to make their project reality.

All the security aspects of the solution will also play a key role in building a chain of trust between administrations and their citizens. They must guard against identity fraud to guarantee that the service is delivered to the right person, and protect users’ personal data by allowing them to control the use and circulation thereof.

As for the technical challenges connected with designing simple and secure solutions, the major industrial players in the ecosystem now have them well under control. Companies such as IDEMIA, THALES, GEMALTO and VERIDOS have gained numerous references in providing governments with digital or mobile digital identification solutions and central banks with tamper-proof bank notes. These are the partners with which Orange has chosen to work to penetrate the ecosystem.

Orange's solutions for digital identity

Hand-in-hand with its digital identity partners, Orange adapted its NOMAD client identification system to make it capable of collecting the digital attributes of citizens which are then stored on large servers made available to governments. Building from this tool, we envision the development of multiple further services:

  • identification for Orange clients through the reuse of biometric information collected.
  • identification for high school and university students. A service which we will soon be launching in the DRC. It will allow high school and university students to pay their tuition fees online, as well as to apply for and receive scholarship funds; it will also make it possible to check that the right person is taking the right exams.
  • identification of citizens for the collection of taxes of all kinds and for all civil status procedures.

These services will enable governments to automate and digitize all administrative procedures, much to the benefit of data monitoring and traceability, as well as the fight on fraud and corruption.

Digital identity 
The question of digital identity has become critical insofar as it forms the foundation for the development of digital uses in the field of e-government, as well as in that of the digital economy (e-commerce, e-banking, etc.). More and more governments have digital identity projects, in particular in biometrics. Many initiatives are also being launched by telecommunications operators and international institutions such as the World Bank with its "Identification for Development" program, the African Development Bank and the European Union.

What is digital identity?
Digital identity is the gateway to governments’ digital transformation and the driver of development for the digital economy in many areas of activity: finance, banking, insurance, telecommunications, education, health, etc. It makes it possible to identify citizens and authenticate their identity using digital attributes that go beyond mere reported information (surname, first name, date and place of birth, postal address, etc.). These biometric attributes include: fingerprints, facial recognition, voice recognition, iris image digitization, etc.

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