Shantaram Jonnalagadda, Country Head India at Yoti
Mumbai: Launched in November 2017, Yoti’s solution includes the Yoti digital identity app, which claims more than 4.7 million installs. It essentially replaces a traditional ID card or other paper proof of identity. Yoti also has various partnerships that sees organizations use their ID verification technology within their own apps and websites.
The idea is that Yoti can be used to prove your age on nights out, to check out faster when buying age-restricted items at a store, for safer online dating and other social interactions online or for accessing various business or government services.
The underlying system is granular, too: a company or organization can ask to verify only certain aspects of your identity that you choose to share on a need-to-know basis.
Here is a tête-à-tête with Shantaram Jonnalagadda, Country Head India at Yoti on the growth of digital identity, India’s progress on it and what Yoti’s offering.
How do you think digital identity is the key to unlock the full potential of smart cities and how does it affect common people?
The key to any citizen transacting in a smart city environment starts with their identity. The current process of proving our identity is cumbersome, inefficient and broken. We are still reliant on showing physical identity documents, but this prevents more services from going online and the process of proving our identity at any transaction point is inconvenient. A digital identity solution like Yoti, provides a quick, simple and safe way for individuals to prove their identity both in person and online. The process of verification takes seconds and businesses and governments can be confident that they are dealing with the right person. Digital identity systems can make it easier for someone to prove who they are across a variety of sectors, gives individuals more control over their personal data, and helps fight identity theft and fraud.
Where do you see India stand in terms of digital identity after successful launch of the unique Aadhaar card?
The Aadhaar project has been a masterpiece in providing an identity with biometrics to more than a billion people. Compared to the rest of the world, which is still working on a viable digital identity, India has leapfrogged to provide a unique identity, with fingerprint and iris scans included. However, the dissemination of the identity for a particular transaction is cumbersome at the moment. For any investments, I need to print my Aadhaar card, self-attest and send a physical copy. It completely defeats the purpose of a digital identity. While the creation of the Aadhaar platform is remarkable, the dissemination needs to be made simpler. We also need to consider the growing concerns about privacy and consent, which should soon become a legal framework with the Sri Krishna Bill. For a digital identity to be viable, all the pieces need to come together - the creation, the dissemination, privacy and consent of the individual.
How Yoti can benefit companies in India and abroad in terms of providing a solution for digital identity verification?
Yoti provides a vehicle for successful dissemination of digital identity while addressing concerns of consent and privacy. Yoti verifies the basic identity document of the individual, be it a passport or an Aadhaar card, and links the face of the individual to the identity document. The face could then on be used to verify the individual, and attributes of the identity (like name, age, date of birth, gender or address) which can be shared within a consent and privacy framework. The entire process of verifying oneself becomes simpler and more secure.
Compared to other developing and under-developed nations, where does India stand as far as providing digital identity to its people?
As mentioned above, India has a significant advantage of already creating a biometrics-based identity for almost all of its citizens. It is just a question of how this can be used seamlessly and securely by the citizens while ensuring that their privacy is protected. A solution like Yoti can be complementary to Aadhaar, providing infrastructure to share at the point of a transaction in a safe and secure manner.
How do you think the current ‘Digital India’ programme play a critical role in the pursuit of $5 trillion economy?
I think the Digital India program is a very powerful tool in pursuit of the $5trillion economy. We have to remember that in India, we do not have the resources of the developed world to bring in a $5 trillion economy. Digital becomes a force-multiplier in doing more with a limited amount of resources through the power of technology. An example of this would be the DigiYatra program launched by the Government of India. Through digital means like face match technology and other digital interventions in the airport, we can have a larger throughput of passengers through the same airport. The existing infrastructure can be stretched to do so much more.