UNCTAD Policy Brief No. 96

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has accelerated the shift toward a more digital world in a way that will have long-lasting effects. Lockdown measures have led to a surge in electronic commerce (e-commerce), as consumers look for alternatives to in-person shopping.

Such shifts in global consumer behaviour mean that a robust e-commerce framework is rapidly becoming an essential component of a regionally integrated economy. Moreover, e-commerce and other economic activities enabled by information and communications technology have the potential to accelerate progress towards all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. However, many developing countries face challenges when it comes to the promotion and implementation of e-commerce.

Leading these challenges are consumer concerns over the cybersecurity infrastructure that underpins electronic transactions, especially the lack of strong methods of authentication to tackle fraud-related issues. To address such challenges, countries should establish policies that lead to the implementation of a robust national digital identity framework.

More information: https://unctad.org/webflyer/why-robust-digital-identity-systems-are-essential-fostering-trade-and-development

Key points:

  • Digital identity refers to the set of electronically captured and stored attributes and credentials used to uniquely identify a person.
  • Countries should establish policies that support a robust national digital identity framework to ensure their economies are regionally integrated, including through e-commerce
  • Digital identification can provide a cost-effective means for developing countries to provide citizens with access to rights and services such as banking, schooling and collecting social benefits.
  • When effectively implemented, participation in the digital economy can be a powerful tool in helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.