The po­ten­tial of a Dig­ilocker

Mint Asia ST - - Money - AMIT JAJU


ex­plo­sion of tech­nol­ogy has led to a rapid rise in dig­i­tal as­sets and trans­ac­tions. To­day most pri­vate and pub­lic ser­vices are avail­able through web­sites or apps, pro­vid­ing con­ve­nience and ac­cess to ev­ery­one.

But for most busi­nesses, man­ag­ing the op­er­a­tional as­pects can de­mand deal­ing with third par­ties, in ad­di­tion to their cus­tomer base, which can be time con­sum­ing, costly and even a risky propo­si­tion. Iden­tity ver­i­fi­ca­tion is a key process for which com­pa­nies spend sig­nif­i­cant time and money. Fail­ure to ef­fec­tively con­duct this ver­i­fi­ca­tion can bring in huge risks for the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

One key area is the doc­u­men­ta­tion process to es­tab­lish the iden­tity of an in­di­vid­ual (vendor or cus­tomer) as well as an en­ter­prise. Al­most all ser­vice re­quests to­day—such as: job ap­pli­ca­tions, pass­port and visa ap­pli­ca­tions, bank ac­counts, loans, leas­ing or pur­chas­ing of prop­erty for rent or pur­chase—re­quire some form of an in­di­vid­ual’s doc­u­ments.

With time, reg­u­la­tory re­forms and self-gov­er­nance poli­cies have put added onus on the ver­i­fi­ca­tion process for cus­tomers, third par­ties and busi­ness part­ners. That said, the risks as­so­ci­ated have in­creased in the form of doc­u­ment tam­per­ing or dam­age due to wear and tear. For large-scale use, the Dig­ilocker could be an ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion. The dig­i­tal locker (Dig­ilocker) is a doc­u­ment stor­age, ver­i­fi­ca­tion and util­ity ser­vice that was launched by the govern­ment un­der the Dig­i­tal In­dia ini­tia­tive.

The in­tent was to elim­i­nate the need for pro­vid­ing orig­i­nal and phys­i­cal iden­tity-re­lated or other im­por­tant doc­u­ments for an in­di­vid­ual’s ver­i­fi­ca­tion, and move to a tech­nol­ogy-en­abled and se­cure dig­i­tal en­vi­ron­ment.

Through the Dig­ilocker, an in­di­vid­ual can up­load a doc­u­ment, self-at­test it through an elec­tronic sig­na­ture, and sub­se­quently share it as and when re­quired. The stor­age ca­pac­ity of­fered per user is 1 GB, with­out any limit on the num­ber of doc­u­ments that can be up­loaded to it. The us­age has seen an uptick since its launch, with re­ports stat­ing that cur­rently there are 2.1 mil­lion reg­is­tered users and 2.4 mil­lion doc­u­ments have been up­loaded on the plat­form. Many doc­u­ments are di­rectly up­loaded by the pub­lic-sec­tor and govern­ment agen­cies, and can be ac­cessed or shared through reg­is­tered repos­i­to­ries. The doc­u­ments can­not be mod­i­fied or tam­pered, thereby as­cer­tain­ing their au­then­tic­ity on­line.

Dig­ilocker is a web-based plat­form and can also be ac­cessed through smart­phones by us­ing a mo­bile app. In­di­vid­u­als can sign up us­ing their Aad­haar num­ber and get a ded­i­cated cloud stor­age space to up­load their doc­u­ments.

In a typ­i­cal sce­nario, or­ga­ni­za­tions seek­ing an in­di­vid­ual’s in­for­ma­tion will have to raise a re­quest on­line to get ac­cess. The user in ques­tion will then get a no­ti­fi­ca­tion and would have to grant per­mis­sion to ac­cess­ing as well as view­ing that par­tic­u­lar doc­u­ment. Its USP is that re­questers will only be able to view the file af­ter they get an ap­proval from the user. The read-only fea­ture of­fers an added safety ben­e­fit.

Dig­ilock­ers can be used beyond iden­tity-re­lated doc­u­ments, and in­clude other key doc­u­ments such as salary slips and rent re­ceipts. Many banks have al­ready started us­ing it for var­i­ous pur­poses, in­clud­ing re­view­ing doc­u­ments for loan ap­pli­ca­tions. Ad­di­tion­ally, schools and col­leges are us­ing this fa­cil­ity for ad­mis­sion pro­cesses, while hospi­tals are us­ing it to store med­i­cal re­ports.

Dig­ilocker has the po­ten­tial to be­come an im­por­tant tool against fraud and cor­rup­tion. The plat­form can be used to de­ter iden­tity thefts, pro­tect data, en­hance pa­per­less gov­er­nance and mit­i­gate vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties around com­pro­mises as it has ro­bust ac­cess con­trols. Some of its other ben­e­fits in­clude:

1. Re­duc­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive over­heads and en­abling easy ac­cess of ser­vice; 2. It is an en­vi­ron­ment-friendly ini­tia­tive that would re­duce pa­per us­age; 3. Ap­ply­ing for iden­tity cards and avail­ing many ser­vices can have a quicker turn­around time as au­then­tic doc­u­ments will be eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble; 4. De­ter­ring fi­nan­cial fraud to a cer­tain ex­tent as all doc­u­ments are val­i­dated and then shared with the re­questor; 5. All data would re­main on servers lo­cated in In­dia, and; 6. Two-fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion us­ing mo­bile one-time pass­words (OTPS) pro­vides and ad­di­tional layer of se­cu­rity.

Per­sonal data is not dealt with se­ri­ous­ness by many peo­ple and this can lead to data breaches wherein in­for­ma­tion can be copied and shared freely, with­out the in­di­vid­ual’s con­sent or knowl­edge. Spams and tele­mar­ket­ing have be­come an an­noy­ance due to free shar­ing of per­sonal data picked up from phys­i­cal doc­u­ment copies. Fraud­sters can also en­gage in iden­tity theft, im­pact­ing in­di­vid­u­als as well as cor­po­ra­tions. There is a height­ened need for aware­ness around the us­age and ben­e­fits of a Dig­ilocker, and as­sess­ing the plat­form’s abil­ity to man­age the vol­ume and se­cu­rity com­plex­i­ties in one of the largest mar­ket­places.

The fu­ture of doc­u­ment man­age­ment has the po­ten­tial to be trans­formed with tech­nolo­gies such as Dig­ilocker.

Amit Jaju is part­ner, foren­sic tech­nol­ogy and dis­cov­ery ser­vices, EY In­dia.

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