South Korea Champions Blockchain-Based Digital ID as Economic Catalyst

south korea, digital identity, smartphones

People in South Korea will soon be able to have their identification digitally embedded into their smartphones and secured on the blockchain, a move by the government intended to boost the economy by leveraging the country’s large tech-first population.

Smartphone-implanted IDs would replace existing ID cards and are expected to have an economic value of roughly 3% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), Bloomberg reported on Monday (Oct. 17).

See also: Blockchain in Action: Creating a Private, Unhackable and Trusted Digital Identity

A distributed digital ledger can create a digital identity that is sharable without giving up privacy and trust because it cannot be faked or forged, PYMNTS reported in May as part of its Blockchain in Action Series.

Having identification embedded into smartphones is one of the many emerging technologies bolstering an expanding digital economy that went into warp speed during the worldwide pandemic as people did everything from home.

“Every service that hasn’t been able to fully transition online will now be able to do so,” said Suh Bo Ram, director-general of Korea’s digital government bureau in charge of the program.

Read more: India to Use WhatsApp to Access Digital ID Documents

Digital IDs make verification on the web easier, getting rid of the need for authentication codes by text or taking photographs of paper identification. The digital IDs are expected to launch in 2024, with around 45 million citizens expected to adopt the technology within two years.

“Digitals IDs can yield huge economic benefits in finance, healthcare, taxes, transportation and other areas and may catch on quickly among the Korean population,” Korea Science and Technology Policy Institute economist Hwang Seogwon told Bloomberg.

“But there has to be more risk assessment technologically to make sure the danger doesn’t outweigh the benefits,” Seogwon added.

Related: How to Catch the Next Wave of Digital Transformation

According to data from the United Nations (UN), Korea is among the most technically experienced governments worldwide, ranking third behind Finland and Estonia based on e-government, telecom, and telecom infrastructure, Bloomberg reported. The U.S. ranked last in the top 10 list, just behind Australia.

“Korea is becoming a quiet power showing the future of global tech,” Heather Vescent, president of Oregon-based IDPro, an association for digital ID professionals, told Bloomberg.