Arnold Janssen D. Saragena, Trade and Industry Development Specialist, the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry

Why this topic?

ID plays a critical role for individuals to interact with the government and private organizations. Every individual needs to answer the question “who are you”; whether we are in a coffee shop to buy our favourite cup, in a bank to open an account or in a hospital to get health care services, and it requires proper proof of identification. Identity is defined as “a set of attributes that uniquely describes an individual or entity” and Identification (ID) is the evidence or attestation of one’s identity.

In the Philippines, proving one’s identity usually requires presentation of at least two valid/government-issued IDs. These IDs are typically non-electronic cards; a credential technology (CT) that is affordable, easy to deploy and use. However, using non-electronic cards has disadvantages such as card loss, tampering, and lack of biometric authentication support which is a more reliable form of identification. Amongst government and private agencies, there is confusion on which ID is considered primary, secondary or even “valid.”

In recent years, other kinds of CT were made available to the Philippines such as RFID cards, biometrics, contact and contactless smart cards, among others. Despite having these technologies, individuals and resident aliens still need to present two valid proofs of identification due to the absence of a unified national identification system.

The current identification system is fragmented between different public service agencies and institutions. It is also hindered by its susceptibility to disruptions and hacking attempts. Implementing blockchain-based solutions can simplify public and private transactions and provide a “national identity” to each citizen and resident alien of the Philippines. The decentralised nature of a blockchain-based solution would alleviate vulnerabilities whilst reducing the risk of inoperability. This would meet the wider aspirations of seamless service delivery, greater administrative governance, ease of doing business and reducing corruption.