Is IDEMIA’s "Combined Approach" to Digital ID a Springboard for Mobile Onboarding Innovation?

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By Lucas Stewart | 4Q 2023 | IN-7125

IDEMIA’s deployment of a digital Identity (ID) solution in Colombia is innovative in terms of onboarding efficiency through the use of a “combined approach” to mobile ID derivation.

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The Colombian "Cédula Digital" Mobile Credential


In 2018, the Colombian government began launching its Digital Government policy, aligning with the global trend of accelerating digitalization strategies that have been, and continue to be, witnessed globally throughout the public sector. This policy aimed to accelerate digital transformation of the country, promoting digital inclusion and advanced technology implementation. The key emphasis surrounded a citizen-driven approach, with development of remote public services coming as a priority, ultimately leading to IDEMIA’s expansion of existing Identity (ID) services in the country and resulting in providing an innovative Mobile ID (mID) solution.

The new Colombian mID delivered by IDEMIA, coined Cédula Digital, is issued alongside the country’s physical national ID card, with Cédula Digital acting as a digital companion to the physical, as is the standard as it relates to physical-first issuance and derived mobile credentials in the government ID domain. In line with the numerous benefits of mIDs, concerning user convenience and augmented service delivery, the Colombian mID has opened opportunities to securely grant citizens access to remote services and to allow in-person ID verification based on the latest industry standards in a seamless manner.

Efficient Onboarding with a "Combined Approach"


The innovative feature to be considered in this implementation concerns a so-called “combined approach” as it relates to efficient and accessible mobile credential onboarding; Cédula Digital is generated automatically from the moment the new physical identity card is issued. This differs from more labored mobile provisioning processes for more standard digital ID schemes that require manual onboarding without prompt, generally a more cumbersome process. In the case of Colombia’s project, once citizens withdraw their ID card in an official physical branch and perform the first biometric checks, they will receive a QR code and a unique activation link by email. This is then used to activate their mID through the national Cédula Digital application, by scanning the QR code or clicking the link to launch the digital ID onboarding process.

The onboarding process requires two simple steps. The first is face verification where the citizen is authenticated using the latest facial recognition technologies; a selfie is automatically compared to the photo recorded in the national civil identity register. Thereafter, the citizen creates a 6-digit security Personal Identification Number (PIN) code and the Cédula Digital is ready to be go. This process, being prompted and streamlined in comparison to alternative mID implementations, yields explicit benefits in terms of adoption, through leveraging advanced civil registry data. There is a lower barrier to the onboarding and usage of the digital credential, which increases the rate of public sector digitalization.

The Importance of Robust Civil Databases


Given the aforementioned benefit, the question to ask is if the combined approach to mobile issuance might see further traction in the wider mobile government ID space. ABI Research believes this will be the case, hinging on the presence of sophisticated and robust civil registry systems with appropriate capacity. This brings emphasis to creating or updating ID infrastructure as a step that enables mID progression. These processes add to the holistic approaches of vendors to generally offer a turnkey solution as it relates to IDs, providing the physical document, mobile companion, and system to accommodate enhanced government service delivery. Vendors should seek to expand upon existing tenders, building upon existing relationships where they are the physical ID provider and using expertise to broaden their ID offerings into the digital realm. This reasoning also relates to new opportunities, where nations with existing established citizen databases, including biometrics, can form easier pathways to implementing a mobile credential.


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