By Leonard Cheong, Managing Director, AdNovum SingaporeFeatured

Managing digital identities: An indispensable need in a post-pandemic environment

By Leonard Cheong, Managing Director, AdNovum Singapore

Digital identities have always been important, even before the pandemic, and will continue to play a key role in the digitalization of our economies. However, the widespread lockdowns necessitated by COVID-19 disrupted the way we work, live, and play and have definitely accelerated the adoption of digital identities and highlighted their importance. From shopping and schooling to working from home, banking, and doctor’s consultations, more interactions take place online than ever before.

In this landscape, it is critical for every citizen to have a trusted digital identity. Trusted, secure digital credentials can replace physical identity cards in the digital world, allowing organizations and governments to smoothly conduct business online.

What’s more, digital identities form an important part of any economy today, allowing individuals greater ease of access to services that once required in-person or paper authentication, such as tax filing, banking, or applying for permits with the government. McKinsey Global Institute research has also found that carefully designed digital identities can add 6% growth to an emerging economy’s GDP in 2030 and 3% to an advanced economy’s GDP, highlighting the widespread positive impact of digitalizing the process of identity authentication and management. As we rebuild from the pandemic, digital identities will be important in innovation and cushioning against the downturn.

Raising the standards of authentication

FICO Survey: PH banks struggle in customer digital verification system

There is a myriad of applications for businesses (across sectors) to leverage digital identity. At its heart, businesses can use digital identities to build a powerful database of knowledge about their best customers, and then turn that information into action.

For the public health sector, having a strong trusted digital credential for each citizen can enable digital healthcare services to become a reality. For example, in Singapore, users can leverage their MyInfo credentials to share their personal information and no longer have to fill out lengthy forms with repetitive information interacting with healthcare organizations. In the healthcare sector, this means that prescription requests, specialist appointments, and insurance claims can now be filed wherever, whenever, as long as the user is connected to the internet and consents to use the MyInfo service.

Another example is the retail sector, where digital identities can be leveraged to develop and test marketing campaigns that are tailored to specific target audiences.

Digital identity can also be extended to objects, allowing businesses to trace and manage the lifecycle of a particular physical product. A great example is AdNovum’s Car Dossier project in Switzerland which leverages identity and taps on blockchain to create greater trust and transparency in the country’s used-car ecosystem.

Challenges

Security and accessibility are the two biggest challenges when it comes to digital identity.

Securing digital identities effectively is important to ensure greater adoption and longevity. Increased integration of user databases across businesses, government, and services inherently increase the risk of cyber threats. This necessitates the development of more sophisticated authentication. Singapore has focused on the use of biometric authentication in securing the country’s National Digital Identity program, including the introduction of fingerprint scanning and password-less access to enable a more secure and seamless user experience. In the coming years, we can expect more secure forms of authentication to power similar projects across Asean. One example would be using behavioral analytics powered by machine learning to authenticate “permissioned” access.

Ensuring security while not being too invasive for consumers is also crucial — and that must be achieved while balancing privacy concerns and compliance with government regulations.

Another important challenge is ensuring accessibility and inclusion, in terms of social income, educational levels, and disabilities. As services move online, governments must ensure that no citizen is left behind due to a lack of awareness or financial means. As such, there is a need for greater education and training on how to set up and use digital identity services, especially among senior citizens. For the less privileged, it might also mean launching initiatives that improve internet access and availability.

Digital identities refer to a set of credentials that can be used to prove that a consumer is really who they are in the virtual world. Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions are used to manage these identities and ensure that only the right people are able to access services and data.

On the customer side, Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) can be used to help businesses strike the ideal balance between customer experience and security, without needing to sacrifice one in pursuit of the other. A strong CIAM solution can be used to create a unified profile of the customer across touchpoints such as websites, mobile apps, physical branches, and more. This enables businesses to provide a seamless, multichannel experience, in turn leading to greater customer loyalty.

CIAM

CIAM can also be used to manage privacy and regulatory compliance requirements such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Singapore Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

In addition to customer-side identity management, businesses can also leverage IAM for their workforce. Employee IAM can be used to manage which staff members can gain access to confidential information and terminate employee accounts when staff change departments or leave the organization. Here, once again, IAM contributes to greater security, compliance, and peace-of-mind.

The pandemic saw consumers become increasingly reliant on digital experiences. At the same time, cyber threats have also increased as cyber attackers seek to capitalize on the panic and fear caused by the crisis. As businesses recover, they must find ways to ensure their customers can engage with services at any time, from any device, securely.

To ensure an effective CIAM adoption, businesses must consider the following:

Compliance
Any CIAM platform must meet compliance requirements on a global scale. The desire for a better experience, and concerns around security, still shape the digital relationship between consumers and businesses. In fact, 74% of consumers say security is the most important factor when deciding to engage with a business. At the same time, 88% of consumers want more control over the use of their data, an echo of their desire for increased transparency in data protection and privacy. That is why it’s important for organizations to adhere to regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has prompted businesses worldwide to not only re-examine their privacy policies and compliance processes but also to acknowledge the value of privacy in building consumer trust in business.

Customer analytics
The ability to integrate customer analytics is another important attribute of a strong CIAM solution. Analytics can provide a comprehensive view of customers, insights and market intelligence. With these insights, businesses can improve customer experience and enhance marketing, sales, and product development efforts.

Scalability
For most enterprises, the amount of data collected about each customer has increased exponentially as digitalization allows for the capture of a greater set of data points. There might also be seasonal periods – such as during Christmas or Chinese New Year — when customer demand fluctuates dramatically. Hence, it’s important for businesses to adopt a CIAM solution that can be appropriately scaled, without affecting customer experience.

Integration with APIs
An effective CIAM platform needs to be able to integrate more than just people – it must also be able to work together across providers, connecting all native and third-party applications that handle customer data. This facilitates connectivity between applications, devices, or programs, it also processes requests and streamlines functions in a business ecosystem, providing a seamless experience not just for the businesses but the customers as well.

AdNovum

AdNovum Singapore has 10 years of providing trust and peace of mind to banking, insurance, and public sector customers in Singapore. We support businesses in managing their customer data through CIAM. We deliver robust CIAM solutions and have a strong track record of implementing large-scale, complex projects successfully, with close-to-zero downtime.

The business landscape is constantly changing due to factors such as international trade, regulation, and cyber risk, even as Asian businesses put their digital transformation plans in motion. And that is why at AdNovum, we strive to provide robust end-to-end security solutions and the ability to integrate with complex, multidimensional enterprise and regulatory environments to help businesses accelerate their digital transformation.

Our role also goes beyond CIAM to being a trusted industry partner. We aim to empower businesses to master their digital potential and reimagine business models, by unlocking the power of new technology such as blockchain, robotic process automation, and machine learning.