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[liberationtech] Everyone says low-income people need a digital identity, but why would they want that?

Yosem Companys ycompanys at
Thu Feb 28 16:39:13 PST 2019

I haven't read the study below, but it looks fascinating. Longtime Stanford
Liberationtech friend Ken Banks conducted the research. -- YC


Over the past few months our Social Impact team has been busy carrying out
research <> across Africa, South
East Asia and the United Kingdom to better understand digital identity
needs and opportunities in these locations. We’ve been speaking to experts
around the world and attending digital identity and humanitarian events to
get a sense of who is doing what, where. Our findings have led to the
development of an exciting user-focused, evidence-based Social Impact
Strategy which we are proud to be launching today, along with an updated
section of the Yoti website <>.

The primary focus of much of the digital identity sector is on the design,
adoption and use of large-scale digital identity systems and how users
interact with them. This includes national efforts, such as the Aadhaar ID
system in India. Most of this research begins with the technology and works
its way down to the people who use it, an approach which has given us
something of a knowledge deficit.

What we’re missing is an understanding of why people might want a digital
identity, how they interpret or understand digital identity, their concerns
and what tools and approaches might be missing in their local context.

*While we know there are approximately 1.1 billion people around the world
who would benefit from some form of (likely digital) identity, we know far
less about their own personal motivations for wanting and using one. And
without a fuller understanding of these kind of bottom-up issues, we have
little chance of developing the most useful and appropriate solutions. We
need to dive deeper and find out more if we want to increase our chances of
adopting the right kind of identity – a Good Identity
<> – in our sector.*

While we remain committed to helping solve the problem of the 1.1 billion,
our new Social Impact Strategy is designed to help us better understand
digital (and broader 21st century) identity perceptions, motivations,
challenges, opportunities and concerns among grassroots communities and
migrants around the world.

With a particular focus on emerging markets, the Strategy is made up of a
number of key activities, including:

Helping local researchers and policy makers to better understand the
opportunities and issues through our exciting new annual Fellowship
Program, launching in the next few weeks.

Empowering local innovators and thought leaders by providing a support
program for developing world innovation hubs, universities and business

Running competitions and challenges in support of local innovation efforts.

Providing an open-source digital identity solution that is simple to use,
free and completely offline. This has been designed specifically for
grassroots, last-mile nonprofits and socially-focussed groups.

Our Strategy has one key purpose: to help further the positive social
impact of digital identity solutions globally and to ensure digital
identity becomes a force for good – for everyone, everywhere.

You can download a copy of our Social Impact Strategy (PDF)
here. The updated section of the Yoti website can be found here
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