Microsoft has announced a collaboration with Accenture that will see the companies create a digital ID network. To achieve this, the partnership will use blockchain technology. The initiative is part of a United Nations backed project to bring official legal identification to 1.1 billion globally who currently lack such documentation.
Accenture has been a long-term advocate of blockchain technology. In January, the company published a report showing how blockchain can cut costs significantly for investment banks.
The partnership with Microsoft was announced Monday at the UN headquarters in New York City. The two companies are participating in the second summit of ID2020. This merger between public and private representatives is a consortium promoting the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goal.
Under the terms of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal, the UN seeks to provide legal identity for all people. It is hoped such documentation will help refugees prove their identity and receive services, such as healthcare.
Blockchain has been of increasing interest to Microsoft. The company has already embraced the technology in several ways, including its Azure Blockchain as a Service (BaaS). Blockchain is the distributed database that underlines Bitcoin, it is noted for being resistant to unwanted changes and for maintaining expanding data records.
“Without an identity you can't access education, financial services, healthcare, you name it. You are disenfranchised and marginalized from society,” says David Treat, a managing director in Accenture's financial services practice.
“Having a digital identity is a basic human right.”
The companies will create a blockchain platform that connects existing record-keeping software through blockchain. The existing systems will come from commercial and public sources. Microsoft says this will give people access to personal information wherever they are.
Clearly the initiative is targeting developing nations, or countries with a large refugee population. These refugees will be able to prove who they are, even if their official documents have been left behind.
“What ID2020 is truly focused on is bringing together an alliance of stakeholders to ensure the technology that is being developed is responsive to the needs of individuals,” says Dakota Gruener, executive director at ID2020.