Identity has long been a topic that has intrigued us here at Caribou Digital. It sits at the centre of transactional behaviour, essential for financial, property, health and educational services, and it is hub around which we create our on-line identities within social media platforms. Most importantly in emerging markets a basic identity, verified by the state, is something that is not available for many people. Without the foundation stone of a digital identity, many digital and real-world services will be denied to them.
In countries such as India and Pakistan the Government is taking the lead to introduce digital identity, using their ability to drive people to register and reaching over a billion users very quickly. This creates a huge potential platform for the private sector to build other services on top, but we were intrigued as to how the private sector – from Facebook, to the mobile operators, to start ups – is starting to crowd into this space. Driving demand to digital identity services is hard – it’s not a product many users spontaneously ask for, it’s more a by-product or gateway to what they really want to do. Understanding, and responding to, demand drivers for identity-based digital products will be critical for these private sector actors.
We will be soon be starting a new research programme to better understand user demand and the social & cultural structure of digital identity in emerging markets, but we have just completed our first research report on landscaping private-sector digital identity in emerging markets. Over here on Medium our lead researcher Bryan Pon talks in more detail about our landscaping of the private-sector digital identity sector in emerging markets report that we’re very thankful to Omidyar Network for funding. You can read it here.