The future of identity: Who are you?

People’s identity has been fundamental throughout history for doing business and establishing social and personal relationships alike. However, being able to prove who we are has never before had as many implications as it does today, both for companies and in people’s daily lives.

Nowadays, our ability as users to prove our identity, not only in the physical world but also in the digital one, is essential for accessing the majority of services and information offered online. For companies, the process through which they verify the identity of their customers has become a key competitive factor.

We can say that in the future, both on a conceptual and practical level, the way in which we understand and prove our identity will be very different in comparison with times past.

Until not long ago, historically speaking, our identity was inextricably linked to the physical world, particularly at the local level in the case of transactions. In this regard, managing identity was easier, as people would tend to interact in environments in which they were known. The truth is that as society has evolved, identity has broadened to include concepts such as place of residence and citizenship. But the Internet has changed the rules of the game: Now we can — and usually do — buy goods and services and interact with people from anywhere in the world.

This new scenario has brought with it a series of changes, new opportunities and, of course, greater risks relating to our identity. User’s personal and financial data are vulnerable to theft and security breaches, and companies have to contend with false identities and financial fraud.

And yet, in spite of the risks, the number of digital transactions continues to rise. For example, the percentage of banking products that can be taken out directly online has gone from 43% to 76% in just two years, and 90% of these products can only be acquired via a smartphone. Furthermore, 94% of users express that they want to complete transactions online, while 85% say they want to do so via websites that verify the identity of all their customers.

Therefore, any digital business must establish a relationship of mutual trust with its users, and this trust is intrinsically linked to the capacity to verify a person’s identity.

Companies are developing and implementing processes to respond to these emerging necessities: processes that are 100% digital, fast and easy, and are not only secure but transmit this sense of security to the user. However, the solutions that work today to verify identity may not be sufficient in the future. It is estimated that by 2020 half the world’s population will be online, and the other half will be connected by 2025. This will bring new opportunities, new demands and new risks relating to digital identity. What will the challenges be and what needs to change in the current scenario?

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