Digital Passports: The End of Anonymity or The Next Stage of Consumer Control?

Digital Passport

Early signs are pointing to a future in which every individual has a universal digital identity – a “digital passport” – a truly verified online identity – that will bring ultimate convenience, efficiency and peace of mind for consumers about their online security. A digital passport would offer seamless access to services, with no need to log in, verify one’s identity, pay for products, or book services. It also offers benefits to businesses, as they will be able to easily track online behaviors of individuals through their unique digital identities.

Thus far, digital identity innovations have included two-way rating systems that allows customers to be rated by their providers, and China’s pending Social Credit System, which will assign citizens a “trustworthiness” score. Biometric payments also represents an early iteration of this trend, acting as both unique identity markers and functional payment mechanisms.

However, as digital passports provide a wealth of data through which companies can better understand consumers on an individual level, this may spell the end of anonymity for consumers.
Globally, about 80 percent of consumers report wanting to have more control over the personal information they give companies and the way in which it is stored, with little difference among those who play lottery. While this may indicate individuals’ preference for anonymity and reluctance to allow companies to indiscriminately collect their personal information, a digital passport could, in reality, provide consumers with far more control over their personal information than that which they have today.

Signs that the digital passport could be welcomed is particularly strong among lottery players: Sixty-eight percent of weekly lottery players globally are interested in being able to tap or scan their fingerprint as a form of identity to make purchases. Interest among lottery players is especially prominent in the U.S. (79 percent) and Sweden (78 percent), particularly among younger, digital-first consumers. Digital passports are more likely to take hold more quickly in nations that are open to digital developments, such as China, and countries such as Estonia and India that are setting up e-residency and universal identity programs. In developed markets, there is arguably less of a need, as ease of assessing services and infrastructure is already high. This could leave room for brands to pioneer in this space.

In the lottery industry, consumers could have instant access to all platforms through biometric login options taking the place of passwords. This has the possibility to allow verified access to bank accounts, efficiently and safely, with the purchase of a lottery ticket being simplified and one-tap payments being the norm. Weekly lottery players have a high interest in this, with the 67 percent globally being interested in a service that allows them to have one single identity that could be used to access all of the online sites and services that they use. Again, interest is especially prominent in Sweden and the U.S.

The future may also see the arrival of digital reputation brokers, competing to manage consumers’ online identities on their behalf, deciding what they share, and negotiating incentives, thereby leaving consumers confident that their information is secure and still uniquely their own.

Source: Foresight Factory Online Research │ Base: 1000-5000 online respondents per country aged 16-64 (Indonesia & S. Africa 16-54), 2016 February
Source: Foresight Factory Online Research | Base: 1000-2000 online respondents per country aged 16+ (China 16-64), 2016 October

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