Stories and insights from the world of digital identity
Yoti and Synectics join forces to trailblaze new digital identification technology to fight financial crime
LONDON, UK – 21 November 2019 – Synectics Solutions has partnered with the digital identity platform Yoti to leverage advanced identity verification technology and enhance customer onboarding for its clients. The partnership will help tackle identity fraud and prevent bad actors from accessing and using financial services to commit serious crimes. Synectics will utilise identity verification from Yoti to digitally transform the customer experience – offering individuals a simple, private and secure way of proving their identity for KYC when applying for financial services. The innovative move will provide Synectics’ clients with the ability to: Verify the identity of end-customers to a high level of assurance in the UK or over 175 nationalities using government-approved documents including passports, driving licences, and national ID cards. Allow consumers to prove who they are remotely and securely, globally. Streamline the approach to customer onboarding and customer due diligence. Reduce user journey friction and deliver products and services faster than before. Enhance regulatory compliance through a best-in-class technology solution. As new digital technologies disrupt markets, complex organisations need to move from traditional information management approaches to modern solutions if they want to remain secure and competitive. For over 27 years Synectics Solutions has been at the forefront of developing leading-edge, data driven solutions for its clients, to help them create effective risk management systems and reduce their losses to fraud and other financial crime. Synectics’ clients have saved over £4.8 billion collectively through the use of these market leading link analysis, fraud prevention and predictive analysis solutions – National SIRA, Orion and Precision. Yoti provides global coverage for businesses through being able to authenticate government-issued ID documents from 175 countries. It uses cutting edge AI to determine that a person is real, through a fast and simple liveness test, and that they are the person who they claim to be through matching their face to the presented ID document. This can offer significant benefits to many regulated firms who still require customers to present certified paper copy proof of identity documents over the counter. Russell Mackintosh, Head of Partnerships at Synectics Solutions said: “We’re delighted to announce this partnership with Yoti as it further demonstrates our recognition that improving methods of authenticating and identifying genuine customers lies at the heart of addressing issues of fraud and financial crime for our clients. “As a company we’re committed to continually investing in the services we offer and Yoti’s Doc Scan provides access to the leading edge ID&V technology to help our clients improve their ability to authenticate genuine customers faster and more effectively.” Gareth Narinesingh, Commercial Director – Financial Services at Yoti said: “Our partnership with Synectics Solutions is a key proposition for UK regulated financial services. Verified identities delivered through our Yoti Doc Scan platform compliments best-in-class data services provided by Synectics Solutions. Financial services clients can now look to an end-to-end solution for onboarding new customers or remediating existing customer files, through a comprehensive digital journey. This will lead to better and quicker customer outcomes for good actors, whilst employing much tighter controls around keeping out bad actors. This will be good news for both compliance officers and heads of retail banking and consumer finance businesses.” For more information go to www.yoti.com or visit the app store on iOS and Android phones. About Yoti Founded in 2014, Yoti is a global technology company on a mission to become the world’s trusted identity platform. Our free digital identity app is the new, safer way to prove your age on nights out, check out faster with age restricted items at supermarkets and save time and money proving your identity to businesses. It brings safer connections with the people you meet online as well as enabling secure website login with your biometrics instead of remembering passwords. All personal details are secured with 256-bit encryption and Yoti promotes a data minimisation approach. For more information, visit www.yoti.com. Media contacts Russell Mackintosh for Synectics Solutions: firstname.lastname@example.org To contact Synectics Solutions directly call 0333 234 3419 or email email@example.com Mark Hindle for Yoti: firstname.lastname@example.org
#MarginalizedAadhaar: Exclusion in access to public information for marginalized groups
This is the first field diary entry from Subhashish, one of our Digital Identity Fellows. His year-long research project is focused on the challenges and opportunities within marginalised groups most affected by Aadhaar, India’s national digital ID system. *** In this first of a monthly series of field diary entries, I will be highlighting the challenges and opportunities relating to access to public information for marginalized groups in India. Documentation collected in my research so far includes interactions with two major groups — marginalized communities and other stakeholders that are key to all the digital identity discourses. The first group included individuals from Goa, Tamil Nadu and Telangana with a varying degree of marginalization. The second group included a diverse group of experts — from linguists who have experience in indigenous and endangered language documentation who are well aware of the practical issues of indigenous communities from India and the rest of the world, to researchers working on assessing Aadhaar’s impact on social sector, to international human rights activists, to technical experts from the Free and Open Source community, to musicians whose progressive composition voices against the systemic oppression in North Madras. In this diary, I have focused primarily on the access to public information from the lens of social exclusion, indigenous and linguistic rights, disability and technical hindrance. India’s linguistic diversity What does an ordinary member of the public go through while accessing vital information provided by the government? What if this person is marginalized on the basis of language or ethno-social or economic structures? What if this information is something like that provided for Aadhaar, India’s biometric-based digital identity program – something that is already complex from legal, social and technical perspectives? What if this person in question is either a monolingual speaker of an indigenous language that is not the official language of their region, or is illiterate or has a visual impairment or is subject to any kind of systemic oppression? India is home to the largest number of indigenous peoples in the world. 22% of the country’s terrain is home to 705 indigenous groups (about 104 million constituting 8.6% of the population as per the 2011 Census). These groups speak more than 419 different languages and most of these languages are oral in nature. Out of the 780 languages spoken across India, only 22 are officially recognized by the constitution. This recognition is critical in that it enables them to be used for governance. Though some from these 419 languages are multilingual, many are not. The official Aadhaar website (uidai.gov.in) is currently partially-translated into 12 out of the 22 official languages, with no inclusion of even one indigenous language. The Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a 1948 document that was drafted by representatives made up of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds identifies access to information in one’s own language as a fundamental right. In a recent interview, noted linguist Dr. Mandana Seyfeddinipur – who heads the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London – said, “you cannot send out a pamphlet in majority languages during an emergency due to an epidemic”. She further emphasized by providing the example of the 10-12,00 people that live in a 10 km2 area in Lower Fungom region of Cameroon who, on a daily basis, speak about nine languages. When Dr. Seyfeddinipur identifies the issue of creating and updating information in the 7,000 languages spoken in the world, she emphasizes the need to identify the language that each community of an administrative region understands—indigenous or a majority language—while developing public information. While Aadhaar gradually becomes the go-to authentication system in both government and private sectors, the official website currently has no audio-based information available to help indigenous oral language speakers or people with illiteracy. This represents not just a linguistic barrier but also a digital accessibility hindrance. It is important to note that India is home to the world’s largest number of people (15 million) with visual impairment and screen readers that help people hear the text while accessing text-based information are absent in the majority of the languages. The lack of linguistic and digital accessibility resources constitutes a large part of my initial field research in India. Key questions asked to affected community members How do people in your community who are subject to illiteracy, poverty, visual impairment (or have other forms of disability) and various social exclusions access vital public information? What challenges do they face and what is missing? How do you find the technology behind Aadhaar at the moment? What can be done to improve its openness, transparency and accountability? What are different exclusions that many beneficiaries are subject to in the rollout of digital identity programs in India and around the world? What are the repercussions from a human rights standpoint? Is it always feasible to provide information to people in their native languages? What are the practical challenges and what can be done to ensure that all people can have access to the most vital information? Key findings from interviews The current system for accessing public information is creating further exclusion as people who are old, or have certain illnesses, disabilities, speak languages that are not official languages, or have other social oppressions face a higher degree of exclusion. There have been considerable outreach efforts designed to educate users on the use of their private data, and the critical need for the collection of that data, particularly around the importance of simpler and more reliable KYC (Know Your Customer) checks. The technical (and larger) infrastructure favours those with privileges, and this creates a wider systemic exclusion from an access-to-public-information point of view. Most features added to Aadhaar’s original layer of authentication can only be used by a highly computer and Internet savvy person, and not an average user. The majority of the country have a low degree of literacy, especially in the majority languages in which most of the public information is available. This is hugely problematic. Further areas of research Other forms of social exclusion – including gender and sexuality that affect the digital identity landscape of India. How the Free and Open Source community can contribute to ensuring openness, transparency and accountability – things that are currently missing in the technical framework that is predominantly built with a proprietary mindset. Repercussions of privacy and security issues and what can be done to better the digital and human rights of different marginalized groups. Best practices from the rest of the world that can improve all kinds of systemic exclusions. Next steps As I proceed further with my research, I will be capturing further narratives from many more marginalized communities around the country that are subject to a spectrum of different kinds and degrees of marginalization. This will hopefully help compare with the viewpoints shared by the previous interviewees, and showcase the impact of Aadhaar beyond the binaries of just positive and negative effects. Similarly, I will also be documenting narratives from other key stakeholders to provide a counter narrative to some of the issues flagged and to show multiple other points of view. If you have a question for Subhashish or are interested in his research, you can reach him here. To follow his whole research project, you can find an archive of his monthly field diary entries here.
He who eats bread with you
B Corps are companies that use business as a force for good. The “B” stands for benefit, and refers to benefiting workers, benefiting the community and benefiting the environment. It is truly a revolution, driven by the nonprofit organisation B Lab, who are reminding us what companies can really do. Although the word “company” today may make you think of balance sheets and revenue, it actually originates from the French word compagnie: ”a society, friendship, intimacy; body of soldiers”. If we look further back, we find the Latin phrase companio: “he who eats bread with you”. Companies were originally about people and sharing, which is exactly what Yoti has been about from day one. The backstory: day one at Yoti Before we even had a name, we understood the complex ethical questions we would likely come up against. We knew that if we were going to ask people to trust us with their most personal information, we would need to set up an ethical framework to guide us and help us answer these questions. We came up with our seven founding principles which continue to feed into everything we do. We knew we’d also need an independent board of trustees who could hold us to these principles and advise us with expertise from relevant fields, such as human rights, data privacy and last-mile tech. And so was born the Guardian Council. While we were setting up our foundations in the summer of 2014 and had finally settled on a name – Your Own Trusted Identity (Yoti) – B Corps had just crossed the pond from the US and launched in the UK. Their mission and framework really resonated with the kind of company we were striving to build. We were awarded our B certification in July 2015 and became one of the first founding UK B Corps. And we have been driving good ever since. The mission To qualify as a B Corp, a company must have an explicit social or environmental mission. A certified B Corp is legally required to take into account the interests of workers, the community and the environment, as well as its shareholders, in all decisions Yoti’s mission is to give people a safer way of proving who they are in the physical and online world. Our free consumer app and platform for business is designed to protect society from fraud – and help people know who they are dealing with, using less data. The practicalities A company must amend its articles of incorporation to adopt B Lab’s commitment to sustainability and treating workers well, as well as meeting B Lab’s comprehensive social and environmental performance standards. The key areas assessed are: Governance We have a strong ethical framework that is built on our seven ethical principles. Alongside the Guardian Council, we have an Internal Ethics and Trust Committee that oversees the development and implementation of our ethical approaches and ensure we develop in the right way. We have made public pledges to the Safe Face Pledge, Biometrics Institute: 7 ethical principles, 5Rights framework, the Articl8 member code of conduct and the Fair Tax Mark. Customers The Yoti app was built to give individuals a simple and secure way of proving and protecting their identity, online and offline. It is free, and will always be free, for the user. The app lets you share details with people you don’t know but may be interacting with online, for example on dating sites or classifieds. It also has a password manager to help you keep your passwords safe and age estimation technology that allows individuals to prove their age without needing to add an ID document to the app. We have also teamed up with CitizenCard to give young people access to a low-cost identity document to prove their age, which has taken the price from £17 to £9. Community We’re fully committed to supporting Sustainable Development Goal 16:9 – to provide a legal identity for all – especially to the 1.5 billion people who have no way of proving who they are. Following an extensive period of research and evaluation of social sector needs in the UK, Africa and South East Asia, in early 2019 we launched a brand new Social Purpose Strategy. The key pillars are Digital Identity Toolkit, a Digital Identity Fellowship Programme and our offline ID solution, Yoti Keys. Yoti has also donated £17,200 to charity in 2018/19 and commits 1 percent of revenue and 2.5 percent of profit to the Yoti Foundation. Team We have a brilliant team of over 270 people who we endeavour to support in many different ways. To build a culture of self-development, we give every UK employee a LinkedIn Learning license and an annual budget of £750 for training. Everyone at Yoti also gets five ‘selfie’ days a year to focus on volunteering or personal development opportunities. We offer a multitude of free activities such as yoga, boxing, meditation, anime, running, among many, to help them achieve the life side of things. Environment Through the use of digital ID, we’re striving to combat the huge number of lost physical ID documents – just under 40,000 out of 50 million in the UK are reported lost or stolen each year. Our electronic signature platform helps companies save on printing thousands of pages by enabling them to sign documents digitally. We also have a dedicated Green Team of volunteers who are responsible for managing, implementing and promoting our environmental principles and mission. The B Corps report in all its glory For ALL the ways we are striving to drive good, please have a look at our B Corps 2019 report in all its detail and colour. You can find our official B Impact report here.
Who are you when you're looking for a job?
This is the first field diary entry from Paz, one of our Digital Identity Fellows. Her year-long research project is focused on unravelling what digital identity, and identity in general, means to the unemployed and under-employed individuals receiving support from public job centres and local labour NGOs in Gran Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata in Argentina. *** What do you do when you’re job hunting? Do you go out into the streets and hand over your printed CV to anyone that wants it? Most likely, I presume, you do not. Instead, you probably decide to use the internet, and platforms like LinkedIn. But I wonder, have you built different versions of yourself to appeal to different potential employers? Is there any specific information about yourself you highlighted or avoided mentioning (maybe the neighbourhood or city you live in)? Have you had to show an ID to prove who you are during the search? Have you actively curated your social media in order to portray yourself in certain ways you think work in your favor? Have you searched for advice in online forums, articles, or career coaching sites that drive home the importance of your online presence? I have done almost all of that. I live offline, and I live online. During job hunts I have intentionally tracked my digital footprints so as to ‘curate’ my identity. But does everyone act the same? Does this behaviour depend on your socio-economic class, or where you live? I assume it does, to a large extent. And as a Yoti Digital Identity Fellow, I am digging into this very question in Argentina. My focus is the knowledge, lived experiences, and perceptions of vulnerable, under- and unemployed individuals who seek the help of local organizations (such as NGOs, public job centers and community groups). Why the vulnerable under- and unemployed? Well, they are often considered to be a group most in need of expert-designed policies and technology. Their knowledge is also not often considered relevant to solve the kinds of technology or unemployment-related problems that affect them (or just about any big complex social problem). These assumptions are clearly misguided. I will listen to and observe how they live online, who they are online, and how they change online. I will also explore the interplay between identity and identification for them, and what matters to them and what does not. And after the analysis, I will report back to them. There will be lots of reading too, and talks to researchers and decision makers, but the main source of knowledge will come from those very people living online and offline while looking for a job. Identity Overall, excluding the world “digital” (add ‘digital’ or ‘digitalization’ and things get a lot more complicated, so that’s for another blog), what do I understand of identity and identification? This article provides a concise definition: identity is understood as often implying “a kind of multidimensional social location of an individual relative to other people and institutions around him or her, as an intangible, always contested something an individual creates, or perhaps has, as a result of their interactions with other human beings and systems”. Identification, on the other hand, often implies a process, or “a proof, a system, or a transaction involving a subject and an evaluator, centered around verifying a claim that a person is one person and not any other”. It is a process which “grants access and rights; it is the representation of the individual within/to an administrative system”. And an ID often signifies a “tangible artifact — a document or element that supports a claim or signals that identification might be possible. ID doesn’t mean much without the identification systems behind it.” The research – what and why The main objective of my fellowship is to unravel what digital identity, and identity in general, means for under and unemployed individuals receiving support from public job centres and local NGOs (this includes community organizations, formal or informal). I will focus my research in two major cities in Argentina: Gran Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata, which is the city with the highest unemployment rate in the country. Photo: CC-BY-SA-4.0, Gonzalo Gonzalez I made a number of assumptions at the start of my fellowship, and these are important to acknowledge as they provide an initial framework for the research (and which could well be proven wrong). Assumptions The first assumption is that people in search of jobs often interact with a wide range of organizations, and that digital tools or platforms increasingly mediate these interactions. The second is that the people behind the under- and unemployment statistics are agents rather consciously manoeuvering their identities, enhancing, modifying, or hiding parts of them. Looking for employment involves offering your identity, and includes repeated processing of a seeker’s identification. But for these groups – and this is my third assumption – the process of identity adapting/offering comes with added vulnerability. They move in a digital layer creating digital traces and footprints with little or no control over them, which might negatively affect their job opportunities. It is true we all experience this lack of control, but not in the same way. Vulnerable or marginalized people, those most likely to seek help from public job centres and NGOs, are badly hit by the rapid digitalization of the public space and economy. Because of this added vulnerability, the making and changing of their identities, and their identifications as representations, deserves attention. Reporting back I will use a mixture of qualitative research methods in the year ahead, including participatory observation and semi-structured interviews. Importantly, the third part of the process will involve reporting back the analysis and initial results to those interviewed, and then considering their feedback while producing the final reports and outputs. These final products – which will include blogs, radio/podcasts and videos – will be made in such a way that the research subjects and the general public will be able to read, see or listen to them. Presenting these outputs to the research subjects, organizations and the general public will constitute the final part of my fellowship. Reporting back is important and relevant, and is the reason I applied to the Yoti Fellowship Programme in the first place. For the last few years, I have been committed to working towards the democratization of knowledge, technology, and science. Creating digital identity/identification systems that serve the needs (and respect the human rights) of those at the bottom requires the study of critical issues of inequality, power, and knowledge. The ability, for example, for people to provide conscious and real consent over the use of their identity requires them to ‘know’ what is at stake and feel confident enough to exercise their agency. Next steps I’m hopeful that this aspect of my work will also provide opportunities to discuss the need to change public and private sector top-down approaches to technology, which perpetuate dependence and inequality. In this sense, I expect this reporting to give us the chance to discuss our digital futures, resisting the idea there is only one possible future out there, and that there is nothing we can do about the way technology affects us. If you have a question for Paz or are interested in her research, you can reach her here. For more information on the Digital Identity Fellowship, please head to our website.
A different kind of company
Yoti isn’t like many companies in the identity space. We were born from seven core business principles which feed into everything we do. We are held accountable to these principles by the Guardian Council, our independent committee of influential professionals who have expertise spanning human rights, consumer rights, online harms, data responsibility and sustainability. They make sure that we always seek to do the right thing, and that we are transparent about what we are doing and why. We also have an Internal Ethics and Trust Committee that oversees the development and implementation of our ethical approaches and work alongside the Guardians to make sure everything we do is in line with the seven principles. We are a certified B Corp company and have been internationally awarded for our commitment to rigorous standards of social, environmental performance, accountability and transparency. You can read our 2019 B Corps report to see how we are continually developing as a force for good. We are constantly developing innovative ways of providing digital ID solutions to everyone, whether that be through our fully-funded, year-long Yoti Digital Identity Fellowship or our Yoti Keys product. Our app has been tested to meet the Secured by Design requirements, and our security systems have been accredited by two of the most rigorous standards for information security management; ISO 27001 and SOC2. We have shared our age estimation approach with regulators and civil society bodies in roundtable sessions and it has been reviewed by the Center for Democracy and Technology. We have undertaken an Accuracy of Algorithm Review for regulators with Dr Alison Gardner and are the only company to have been certified under the scheme by the UK Government’s Age-Verification Regulator for age verification of adult content to meet DEA part 3. We have made public pledges to the Safe Face Pledge, Biometrics Institute: 7 ethical principles, 5Rights framework, the Articl8 member code of conduct, and the Fair Tax Mark. Our mission is to fix the broken identity system. This is not a journey we make on our own but with policy advisors, think tanks, researchers, academics, humanitarian bodies and civilians. If you would like to be part of this journey, we’d love to hear from you.
Yoti is proud to be an accredited Fair Tax Mark business
We’re on a mission to become the world’s trusted identity platform and protect society from the growing threat of fraud. While building trust means ensuring our technology is robust and secure, it’s also about doing the right thing as a team of individuals and company. Yoti’s ethical framework and principles shape every area of Yoti, from our development practices right through to our approach to taxes, which is why we’re proud to be an accredited Fair Tax Mark business after passing our annual review. The Fair Tax Mark is an independent certification scheme, which recognises organisations that demonstrate they are paying the right amount of corporation tax in the right place, at the right time; have a transparent tax policy at the heart of their business; and are committed to following both the spirit and the letter of the law. Paul Monaghan, Chief Executive, Fair Tax Mark said: “Yoti is taking corporate responsibility around tax transparency seriously and has made a commitment to not use tax havens or shift profits for tax avoidance purposes, instead committing to paying the tax it owes at the right time, and in the right place.” Robin Tombs, CEO, Yoti said: “We believe paying corporate taxes is an important contribution to wider society rather than simply a cost to be minimised. Whilst many businesses pay the ‘right’ taxes, there is a concern, often fuelled by some high profile companies paying low corporate taxes, that businesses are not a force for good in society. At Yoti we have a set of principles and independent Guardians to help us to operate in the right way. This includes being honest and accountable, seeking to do the right thing and being transparent in what we are doing and why. He continued “We believe the Fair Tax Mark helps show anyone using Yoti, working for the team or doing business with us, that we are committed to transparent and fair tax practices, including paying the right amount of tax, at the right time and in the right place.” In becoming a Fair Tax Mark business, Yoti joins other accredited organisations including Lush, Timpson Group, SSE and the Co-operative Group. Paul Monaghan continues: “It is estimated that €600bn of corporate profits are shifted annually to tax havens, with corporate tax revenue losses globally of €200bn per year – which equates to approximately £7bn of missing revenues in the UK. “Paying the right amount of tax is about fairness and ensuring a level playing field for business.” You can read our fair tax commitment here.
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