Understanding Identity Technology in Emerging Markets

Yoti: A Market Leader in Digital Identity

Yoti: A Market Leader in Digital Identity

Yoti, a software company based in the UK, is a market leader in digital identity. They built a digital ID app - which lets individuals use their phones to act as the primary form of identification. The Yoti app prioritizes data privacy, meaning that only users can access their data, and this gives people a safe way to share their personal information. Yoti also designed a prototype product - the Yoti Key - which acts as a physical version of the app that users could load information onto and tap against electronic readers for verification. By making it safer for people to prove who they are, Yoti aims to become the world’s most trusted identity platform.

Market Research: Understanding the tech landscape in SE Asia

Yoti asked us to help them find out how identity technology could help people in developing countries to stay safe and live better lives. They wanted a better understanding of the current situation in SE Asia regarding digital identity and whether there was an appetite for this type of digital identification system - especially amongst grassroots NGOs within the humanitarian sector.

Our Director of Innovation, Jesse Orndorff, began co-designing a rapid survey and landscaping that helped Yoti understand the challenges faced at grassroots levels in the developing world. We interviewed senior managers and grassroots NGO workers from 11 different organisations, who work in 7 different Asian nations. We asked them about how they managed participant identity information, what tools and systems they use, what problems they face in handling IDs, and what opportunities they could see for improving the way they handle IDs in future.

The Challenges

We learned that there are many common problems related to identity across different areas and sectors. They include:

  • Documentation – for many people, their identity documentation exists as a single copy and are hard or impossible to obtain.

  • Verification – new projects often require local officials to confirm people’s identities on a case by case basis. The process can be lengthy, and often people are prevented from benefitting from a project because their identity can’t be confirmed.

  • Fraud – bad processes for handling identity can sometimes mean resources are poorly distributed. It’s because people appear on participant lists more than once, or because verification and documentation are seen as impossible and are therefore not attempted. Insecure ID systems also create space for corruption and abuse of power.

People can benefit from good ID systems

Everyone we interviewed saw digital ID as vital to their work while bad ID solutions hold back promising projects. Almost all projects require the project lead to identify the people in the user group. That means that a good solution for confirming identity, covering both documentation and verification, has huge potential to transform systems and have real impact across a wide range of sectors and activities. Throughout our research, we met a lot of people who were incredibly excited about how a better, more secure solution for proving and storing identity details could help people to be safer and more prosperous, even in very vulnerable circumstances.

The opportunities for identity and technology to make a real, lasting difference to people’s lives are exciting and extensive. Good ID management can keep people safe and help them to access projects, government services and economic opportunities that they would otherwise be excluded from. Having control of their identity can be a major asset to vulnerable people in particular. And it’s clear that, with a focus on privacy and security at the heart, identity management is a huge opportunity to help people to make the most of their resources and their activities.

For more information about our research, visit Yoti’s overview report: https://www.yoti.com/blog/grassroots-non-profit-digital-identity-needs-an-overview-of-our-recent-research/

  • Research
Project Consultant(s)
Jesse Orndorff
David Burton