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COVID-19 - a crisis and an opportunity for disruption
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The Role of Digital Identity in Conforming to a New Normal

Tomisin Nwanchi

By Tomisin Nwanchi on Jul 21, 2020

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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy is no longer news. We had countries, along with borders, travel, businesses, schools, religious activities, on complete lockdown. Apart from exposing the limitations of our healthcare systems, COVID-19 also affected other sectors with equally dangerous consequences.

One thing that has seen a significant increase since the COVID-19 shutdown began is the reliance on technology. Governments, corporations, and people now rely heavily on technology to run efficiently and to stay connected. This instantaneous shift has exposed the deficiencies in digital identity processes and adoption that have become critical especially in these current climes. Building a resilient community and providing a trusted source of information has now become inevitable - touchless or digital solutions are needed more than ever.

In trying to adapt to these changes, governments, business owners, banks, and corporations have digital identity-related questions running through their minds:

COVID-19 - a crisis and an opportunity for disruption

The critical role of digital identity.

A digital identity is a representation of an entity in a specific context. The aim of digital identity is to formalize the individualization of access to computer networks, made possible by the existence of means of verifying the digital identity of users or objects.

The shift from physical to digital means of interaction during this shutdown has brought about the need to expand digital identity - governments are looking for seamless ways to ensure bailout funds are delivered as assigned; healthcare systems need to keep all the information about patients and recoveries neatly and efficiently for deep data analysis, and proper tracking, and so on..

In the next paragraphs, we highlight four key sectors that digital identity has played a massive role in bending the curve during these COVID-19 times:

Digital onboarding.

With the current reality of social distancing, businesses are expected to adopt new technology to make the KYC process smooth and accurate. There is an increase in the demand for not just financial institutions to verify their customers, but for other institutions as well, as a result of the rise in criminal activities. KYC enables an organization to identify an individual or organization before entering into a business relationship. We must note here that the requirements for KYC are industry or country-specific.

The pandemic has helped place digital KYC verification on the focus, making it more commonplace for customers, businesses and even regulatory bodies. With the use of artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, businesses can verify details of individuals ranging from biodata to biometric or even documents.

Automated KYC processes are useful across diverse industries. If you’re looking to scale to new markets or to increase the number of customers in the market you play in, opting for digital, low-touch and scalable methods are unavoidable. Digital KYC and other electronic processes, once set up, enable and guarantee speed and adaptability.

Particular instances where digital KYC verification is proving useful is in the fast-paced online gaming industry where fraud is proving to be a huge problem. Implementing a digital KYC verification structure will not only be useful in curbing fraudulent transactions but will help in the verification of the age of their users.

In the Asset Management sector, asset managers are favouring digital KYC processes. By automating and simplifying the screening of investors at onboarding, there’s a significant reduction in exposure to AML/KYC burdens, increased speed to revenue, an alleviation of the risks of manual error, and the ability to continuously monitor and scrutinize investor information in an ever-dynamic market.

With the use of OCR (Optical Character Reader) technologies, online retailers, healthcare providers, insurance companies, financial institutions and telecommunication providers can enable users to scan their government-issued document, and the data is extracted and prefilled. This leads to an improved account creation process and reduces the chance of customer abandonment during onboarding.

It is paramount that even at innovation, regulatory and high-security standards are adhered to during digital KYC verification.

Authentication for remote workers.

Identity authentication confirms if an individual is truly who they say they are with four distinct pockets of application:

  1. Knowledge (something you know, e.g. password, pin)
  2. Possession (something you have, e.g. access cards),
  3. Inherence (something you are, e.g. fingerprint or other biometrics methods)
  4. Location (where you’re from, where you are, where you live, where you work)

With businesses encouraging remote work, security has become a significant concern and applications today now use one or a combination of these authentication categories to reduce risks of breaches. Luckily biometrics such as voice, fingerprint, and face offer a strong authentication compared to traditional passwords as it can easily be shared among people and are easy targets for hackers.

Biometrics authentication can also be used to log into company computers with the use of on-device or companion USB drives or cards. This makes computer security more convenient and secure.

Contactless secure access.

Studies have shown that COVID 19 can live on stainless and plastic surfaces for 2 to 3 days. Contactless smart card technologies offer features that can enhance systems designed to control physical or logical access. One of the key advantages of contactless smart cards is the ability to add other applications to the card. This single feature ranks it over proximity technology by a mile. Depending on the amount of memory available and the number of memory areas, contactless smart cards can also serve as multi-application credentials, useful for many purposes.

Access to e-health.

One last sector, but not in the least less important, where the digital identity has been instrumental in the healthcare sector. In developed countries with a more expansive digital identity management, it has allowed healthcare professionals to securely access electronic health care applications using a single electronic credential. The identity validation process confirms an individual’s real-world identity and enables access to healthcare applications.

The enhanced privacy and security safeguards of these identity systems also help protect patient information and enable organizations to register individual users to receive authorization to access digital health services.


Collaborations between identity professionals and private industry participants are the key to making the transition to these new and existing technologies seamless, accessible, effective and expansive. Companies, government, healthcare institutions and business owners should know that setting up a strong authentication process has become baseline priority.

At Softcom, we believe there’s a need to chart a new identity and intelligence strategy for organizations and this can happen with the help of end-point digital identity solutions that can enable the centralization and control of the full inventory of their people, devices, and networks.

Softcom’s identity solution offers end-to-end centralized identity management. From verification to enrolment, and KYC compliance, this innovation helps organisations enrol, verify and manage unique identities as required within any given ecosystem, in a simple, reliable and secure manner. It also supports the harmonisation of identity records and integration with other organised identity networks.

The opportunity that the COVID-19 pandemic presents is that corporations, government and businesses can now rethink and re-strategize their digital identity management. The need for this is nested in the knowledge that every single entity employed by a company is a potential window for compromise.

This is the time to transition to a robust digital identity management software.


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