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Digital Identity Community Unites to Drive Cross-border Interoperability

January 2024 by Marc Jacob

17 major open-standard organizations active in digital identity have launched a new initiative – the Sustainable and Interoperable Digital Identity (SIDI) Hub – to define what is needed to achieve cross-border interoperability for digital identity.

Dozens of digital identity schemes have now been launched or are underway around the world at both national and regional levels, and across the public and private sectors. Yet to date, there is no known scheme considered truly interoperable across borders.

The SIDI Hub
In recognition of the usability gaps inherent in the current fragmented approach, the SIDI Hub was conceived as a community to accelerate the path to cross-border interoperability.
A spokesperson for the SIDI Hub said: “Interoperability is crucial for a fair and inclusive digital society. In the same way payments can be made across borders, we need mechanisms in place to assure people that they’ll be able to prove their identity online and offline, whenever needed.”

Achieving cross-border interoperability
To promote a common understanding of what cross-border interoperability means and define a shared approach and roadmap for success, the SIDI Hub held its first summit at TRUSTECH 2023.
120+ digital identity experts from governments representing 22 countries, multilaterals, standard organizations, and non-profits attended, including representatives from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), UN agencies and the World Bank.
Over three quarters of participants agreed that the establishment of minimum requirements for interoperability was the highest priority on the road to achieving cross-border interoperability. This was closely followed by the definition of global metrics to measure “success” (77%), a shared commitment to championing cross-border use cases (71%), the mapping of trust frameworks across jurisdictions (69%), and the ability to identify which organizations are contributing specific capabilities to digital identity infrastructure (65%).
SIDI Hub’s spokesperson added: “The summit demonstrated the willingness of all sectors and stakeholders to act now and create an interoperable digital future for everyone. It also highlighted how nuanced perception of digital identity can be. Priorities, challenges, opportunities and requirements can differ greatly between Global North and Global South countries. This means to effectively make progress on global interoperability, we need to proactively and intentionally recognize the local context and concerns in each country, including social, cultural, regulatory and legal norms.”

The SIDI Hub roadmap for 2024
Over 90% of participants agreed that the work started at the SIDI Hub summit must continue in 2024.
In response, the SIDI Hub has defined its workstreams and roadmap:
1. Identifying champion use cases for cross-border interoperability that serve as baseline for all workstreams
2. Defining minimum interoperability requirements for priority use cases
3. Mapping trust frameworks across jurisdictions
4. Defining metrics of success.
The group is organizing a series of virtual and in-person meetings this year to progress the roadmap, and invites all organizations involved in the development, adoption and implementation of digital identity solutions to add their voice to this important work.

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