Digital identity rolled out in Bhutan

Bhutan has rolled out a national digital identity system for all its citizens. The national ID system has been built using blockchain technology, which will provide each individual a “self-sovereign” identity, meaning it can only be controlled by the individuals and no other entity – similar to how cryptocurrencies work.

The country’s 7-year-old crown prince, Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, was the first to enroll in the new system on February 21 earlier this year. The service is expected to reach the rest of the population within the year. However, the parliament passed the law in July after which the mass rollover began.

Everybody has information relating to your identity. For example, whether you are authorised to drive a vehicle, whether you are old enough to consume alcohol, whether you are the owner of a business, whether you own land, whether you are the rightful owner of a bank account, all of this information is necessary for conducting a transaction. Even for that matter, your degree certificate, all of these credentials now can be easily provided as verified credentials into your digital identity, and without having to rely on a third party, you can use those credentials directly on a bilateral basis to verify yourself.

 “National digital ID is the platform on which digitisation and online services of banks to hospitals to taxation to universities, everything can come online with 100% assurance,” Ujjwal Deep Dahal, CEO of Druk Holding and Investments, which controls this commercial project.

The onboarding process takes about 5 seconds, Dahal estimated. “In our system, you will not visit any booth to register yourself. You’ll just download an app; share your details, selfie, and national ID card; and in the back end, the AI algorithm will run and say, ‘Okay, I can give you a verified credential,’” he said. This timeline would differ for people who don’t have smartphones or require assistance.

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