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Mastercard joins blockchain digital identity alliance ID2020


Yesterday, the payments firm Mastercard announced it is joining the ID2020 Alliance to explore digital identity solutions. 

The ID2020 Alliance was founded by Accenture, Microsoft, Gavi, Rockefeller Foundation and IDEO. Partners include NGOs, private companies and UN agencies. 

The ongoing pandemic has led to the emergence of digital-only solutions that require users to prove who they are. Digital identity could play a significant role in facilitating access to a range of digital services. 

“We must work together to establish consistency and common standards across the globe that can make this a reality, addressing real challenges faced by people every day and sparking continued innovation,” said Ajay Bhalla, president, Cyber & Intelligence, Mastercard.

Last year, Mastercard said it was exploring decentralized digital identity for verifying financial transactions, government interactions, and online services. It is a well-established fact that digital identity could enable banking and other services for people with no physical papers or credit history. 

The World Bank estimates over a billion people lack any form of legally recognized identification. This hinders their access to vital services, including healthcare, social protection, education and finance. 

Several solutions are being developed globally, but ID2020 believes collaboration and global partnerships are key to digital identity adoption. 

“Digital identity can be a powerful force multiplier to enhance social and economic opportunities for all people,” said Dakota Gruener, Executive Director of ID2020. “But to fully realize that potential, governments, technology companies, financial institutions and civil society must collaborate. We are delighted to welcome Mastercard to the ID2020 Alliance and applaud their commitment to privacy-protecting, user-centric digital identity.”

Gruener recently penned a Harvard whitepaper about COVID-19 immunity certificates for the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. And an advisor has resigned from ID2020 over its potential involvement in immunity certificates.

The ID2020 Alliance enables partners to pool in funds and other resources to develop digital identity projects. 

The Alliance has already launched pilots and recently worked with the Government of Bangladesh to launch a digital identity program for vaccination in the country. 

Digital identity has a myriad of applications, and Mastercard previously joined the Trust over IP (ToIP) Foundation. Other members of the consortium include Accenture, Evernym, IBM, DIDx, and R3.

Evernym is the company that initiated the Sovrin network, the public self-sovereign identity network. South Korea has three separate decentralized identity projects. 

Last month, Microsoft, Evernym, ID2020 and many others formed the COVID Credentials Initiative (CCI) to use digital identity for keeping OVID-19 spread in check. 

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