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Services giant Accenture and technology powerhouse Microsoft have teamed up to build an unprecedented global digital ID program to provide legal identification to 1.1 billion people without documents around the world.

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The two companies unveiled a prototype of the tool today at the United Nations headquarters in New York as a part of the ID2020 program. The public-private partnership consortium sees a unified approach of governments, technology giants and NGOs, among others, to provide a legal identity for everyone on the planet by the year 2020.

The blockchain prototype, built by Accenture in partnership with Microsoft, runs on the latter’s popular cloud computing platform, Azure.

David Treat, managing director of Accenture’s global blockchain business stated:

People without a documented identity suffer by being excluded from modern society. Our prototype is personal, private and portable, empowering individuals to access and share appropriate information when convenient without the worry of using or losing paper documentation.


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When operational, the tool will enable individuals such as refugees who have fled their home country, to show their identity and where they came from, via an app on their phone. The app will allow individuals to share their identities following their direct consent.

A screenshot of the application, released by Accenture, can be found below:

In helping establish their identities, the ID2020 program aims to help individuals and refugees gain access to basic services including healthcare and education in a new land. Birth certificates and education certificates, both of which are traditionally recorded on paper, will also be digitized.

In comments reported by Reuters, Treat underlined digital identity as “a basic human right”, adding:

Without an identity, you can access education, financial services, healthcare, you name it. You are disenfranchised and marginalized from society.

The Tech

The prototype nor the final app will not store any personal details. All identifiable information “always resides ‘off chain’”, Accenture confirmed in a news release. Upon receiving consent to grant access to an individual’s information, the prototype app taps the off-chain system for the details. The two companies have been at work in developing the tool since 2016, primarily led by Accenture’s research hub in Ireland.

Notably, the prototype “uses the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance’s private, or “permissioned,” blockchain protocol.” Accenture and Microsoft are both founding members of the EEA, a cross-industry working group working toward developing enterprise solutions based on the Ethereum blockchain that took shape earlier this year.

Accenture has been providing pro bono services in consulting, digital services and project management as a partner for the United Nations’ Partnership for Refugees program. The services firm’s tech has also been put to use with the Biometric Identity Management System which sees some 1.3 million refugees enrolled in 29 countries from Asia, Africa and Central America.

Ultimately, the blockchain ID system is expected to support over 7 million refugees from 75 countries by the year 2020.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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