• The United Nations is proposing a universal digital ID system that would directly connect to people’s bank accounts and payment apps.
• The World Economic Forum is exploring systems that would track and verify human identities using biometrics.
• Despite the rapid advance of technology, more work is needed to provide equal access to the digital revolution and reverse ever-growing gaps in wealth distribution.
UN Proposes Digital ID System
The United Nations is proposing a universal digital ID system that would be directly connected to people’s financial accounts such as bank accounts and mobile payment platforms. This comprehensive new policy agenda from UN Secretary General António Guterres details an identification network designed to digitize and streamline the process of verifying people’s identities on a global scale.
WEF Exploring Biometric Verification Systems
The World Economic Forum (WEF) is exploring systems that would track and verify human identities using biometrics. To do this, they have teamed up with Swedish biometrics company Fingerprint Cards, and are investigating blockchain-based digital ID platforms “that put privacy at the top of all major priorities”.
Digital Revolution Not Reaching Everyone Equally
Despite the rapid technological advances around the world, there is still more work needed to ensure everyone has equal access to it. This gap has led to an exponential increase in wealth concentration for those in the top 1%, while those in the bottom 50% have seen only 2% of increases in global wealth since 1995. Furthermore, tech billionaires currently possess $2.1 trillion which surpasses many countries’ annual gross domestic product (GDP).
Aiming for Shared Prosperity Through Digital Technology
The UN aims to use digital technologies such as these proposed universal digital IDs linked with bank or mobile money accounts as a way of improving social protection coverage by reducing leakage, errors, and costs associated with these programs. Their goal through this initiative is for their policy agenda to result in shared prosperity through digital technology across all economic groups around the world.
It’s clear that technology can have both positive implications for society if used correctly, but also negative ones if not properly regulated or managed effectively. In order for everyone globally to benefit from technological advances equally without widening already existing wealth gaps further, governments must take responsibility for introducing initiatives which prioritize shared prosperity over individual success and privilege.