By Madhu Nori

We live in a society driven by digital connections — the way we bank, shop, apply for a job and even find love has moved online. Despite this, the way we prove our identity hasn’t changed, still stubbornly clinging to paper and cards. This method is outdated and not secure; we reveal more personal data than necessary and ID documents can easily be lost, stolen or damaged, putting us at risk of identity theft. Furthermore, we can’t be 100 per cent confident in the identities of people we meet online.

A secure digital identity system lets people prove their identity without showing paper documents, confirm the identity of people they meet online, and log into websites securely without passwords. It can help strike the balance between security, privacy and convenience, and make online and offline interactions safer for both individuals and businesses.

Given the growing volume of high profile data breaches over recent years, people are appreciating just how vulnerable their data is. Sixty-eight per cent of Indians said they are worried about becoming victims of a data breach in the near future. A digital identity puts individuals in control of their personal information. They will have greater transparency over who has access to their data and can limit the amount of information they share.

Additionally, companies can benefit from fast and accurate KYC as well as save time and money when verifying the identities of their customers, without the need for paper documents. They can confirm customer identities with less information, safe in the knowledge that every identity is verified.

We are all signing up to more apps and services, and sharing more personal data than ever before. With so many online accounts, convenience often trumps security and people reuse the same passwords and login details across different accounts. The average person has around 32 different online accounts so it is no surprise they reuse the same easy-to-remember passwords. Whilst this makes our lives easier, we are putting our personal data at great risk — hackers only need to crack one email/password and they can then access a number of websites. They will unlock a treasure trove of personal information, allowing them to impersonate individuals and steal their identity.

A digital identity system offers a secure alternative and many companies are already turning to biometrics in a bid to combat fraud, increase security and enhance the customer experience. They no longer have to remember passwords and they can appreciate the ease and simplicity that biometric technology can offer.

Peer-to-peer platforms have changed the way we interact with people. We can meet life partners through online dating, buy items from strangers on classified sites, and even rent another person’s home. Yet it is too easy for people to create fake profiles online and pretend to be someone else.

Anna Rowe, a victim of catfishing, was tricked by a man using the photo of a Bollywood actor on his dating profile. They were in a relationship for 14 months before she discovered his true identity and that he was married. Anna is now calling for catfishing to be made illegal and believes people should have to use their real names on dating sites to prevent them from creating fake profiles. With a single, digital identity and verified details, the misuse of these platforms can be quashed. Individuals have confidence and reassurance that the people they meet are who they say they are — helping to prevent false profiles and make digital interactions safer.

The time for a secure digital identity system is here. Everyday tasks like logging into websites or proving our identity to a business will become simpler and safer, and individuals will also have more control, privacy and security of their personal data. (IANS)