Implementing Government’s Identity Digitalization into Mainstream Platforms

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By Lucas Stewart | 2Q 2022 | IN-6567

India’s DigiLocker is set to be accessible through WhatsApp, consolidating the government platform within Meta’s widely used application to enhance citizen access and to pave the way to further services.

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DigiLocker Set to Be Accessible Through WhatsApp for Indian Citizens


DigiLocker is India’s cloud-based digitization service for the online storage of citizen credentials and documents. DigiLocker provides any resident of India enrolled within the government’s Aadhaar program to access, for example, driver’s licenses, vaccination certificates, insurance documents, vehicle registrations, and academic history directly from the original issuer. Further, it enables citizens to give consent to government agencies that want to query credential issuers about citizen data for verification purposes. India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has announced that users will be able to access their DigiLocker account through Meta’s WhatsApp as a mechanism to improve access to government services.   

Improved Government Service Access


DigiLocker is currently utilized by citizens through a dedicated smartphone app. Now that it has been integrated into WhatsApp via a quick and simple process using each citizen’s unique Aadhaar number in the MyGov Helpdesk chatbot, DigiLocker services are now accessible without the DigiLocker application itself. India has WhatsApp’s largest regional userbase—over 487 million citizens use the app. This is an important factor in why integration will improve service access as it consolidates DigiLocker’s use cases into a highly popular and familiar form that is already commonplace in Indian citizens’ lives. Further, it is easy to set up DigiLocker within WhatsApp, with citizens’ existing accounts and data remaining the same once the user crosses over.

Incorporation of identity access into WhatsApp paves the way to further potential uses. Meta is expected to expand services within the application to include money exchange and bill paying. It is following the likes of China’s WeChat that incorporates features such as payment and health status bar codes for public transport and travel as an “app for everything.” While a government’s individual applications for digital ID may perform the same functions as a stand-alone platform, being accessible through apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat enhances a user’s experience and could fuel a greater embrace of digital ID apps.

Approaches to Digital ID Deployment


DigiLocker’s implementation into WhatsApp raises the question of how governments can best deploy their digital ID offerings. Governments housing their digital ID platform in a widely used private application such as WhatsApp could be a good way to increase the rate of digital transformation. The possibility of similar integration of other government services into these huge platforms should be monitored. As well, the question “Should Meta be the company to lead consolidation of other government’s ID regimes?” must be asked. Moreover, if WhatsApp does become a vessel of digital ID across the world, it may encourage a more standardized digital ID format which aids interoperability—an inhibiting factor of ID digitalization at present. However, the playoff between ceding huge volumes of data to an external company and exposing sensitive information to more pathways of breaching versus the benefits of enabling wider access will be at the forefront of any government’s decision regarding approaches to implementing digitalized ID. For that reason, individual government applications may remain as stand-alone solutions in some cases and is dependent on if that government sees an increased security threat to using such apps as WhatsApp as worthwhile, given the added advantage of wider accessibility.



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