Without question, the most significant recent event that impacted everyone around the world was the COVID-19 pandemic. Literally overnight, the way we worked, interacted, transacted, and proved our identities changed. Some of these changes were temporary and some continue to impact and improve the processes we use today.
From using a QR code to order dinner at a restaurant, to a virtual workplace becoming the norm, humans continue to adjust to the new ways of life.
Some things haven’t changed as dramatically. While central banks continue to test the merits of digital currencies, physical currencies continue to circulate around the world in record quantities.
Similarly, digital identity platforms continue to grow together with an increased use of biometrics at borders. Yet the importance of physical identity documents remains paramount.
What we as an industry need to embrace and address is the known and growing threat from physical counterfeiters. The hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that they generate annually from the sale of counterfeit documents enables them to invest in highly sophisticated production technologies. As a result, the fake documents they issue are often better than the legitimate ones.
The great unknown is the threat to the digital frontier. While digital, mobile, and biometric technologies are highly sophisticated, we need to assume that the bad guys are on the heels of electronic technologies in use today. Large scale data breaches of highly sensitive personal information in government databases are only one example of this threat. As a result, drastic steps are needed to lock down the technologies that house every citizen’s identity.
As we collectively work to address these threats, our industry faces challenges from severe price pressure versus technical innovation, corporate consolidation, market saturation, and bankruptcies/company closures. These trends have created less competition, stifled innovation, and diverted the attention needed to truly thwart the bad guys.
The time is now to change our collective focus, drive innovation, enhance security and embrace the notion that there is no end to this battle. We must stay laser focused on making our futures secure.