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NZTech to launch new digital identity organisation

28 Nov 2018

Remember the name Digital Identity NZ, as next week it’s about to be New Zealand’s first formal digital identity organisation, spearheaded by NZTech.

Digital Identity NZ will promote digital identity to New Zealanders, as well as promote open standards and policy that allows room for innovation.

“We are the country’s newest not-for-profit organisation, bringing together private and government organisations working to make digital identity easier and more secure for everyone in New Zealand,” explains Digital Identity NZ executive director Andrew Weaver.

“We are driven by a purpose of ensuring New Zealand is a country where everyone can fully participate in society by confidently expressing their digital identity,” Weaver says.

Digital identity is now commonplace across a number of everyday transactions, such as signing on to a website to buy a product or service, visiting a hospital, or getting a tax refund, explains Weaver.

“There are now hundreds of times a week people need some form of digital identity and there are so many ways of providing it. That complexity can be challenging for us as customers or users of that technology, and there are also questions of security, privacy and consent that are becoming increasingly important for us all to consider,” he explains.

But he also says there’s incredible potential in how digital identity can be used in the future.

“Some banks now allow customers to use selfie-ID, a form of facial recognition, to open accounts without having to visit a branch while other organisations use fingerprints or voice recognition,” he notes.

RealMe is another government example that has existed for many years, but it may not be the best approach.

“While we have had RealMe in New Zealand for many years it is time to relook at whether a single centralised ID is the best approach in a world where people want ease of use and mobility at the same time as privacy and security,” says Weaver.

He also points out that blockchain is also on the cutting-edge of digital identity. Startup Single Source partnered with Delta Insurance to create a decentralised blockchain identity system.

Some countries have created a single government ID number for every citizen that is central to many identity-based services. Japan and India require a single ID to access government services. Since 2001, Estonia has issued every citizen a digital ID card.

“It's important for all New Zealanders, companies and organisations to know exactly what digital identity is. It not only prevents fraud; it's also about asserting who we are in this society. As we do more and more online, it is necessary to adapt how we enable people to claim who they are,” Weaver concludes.

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