Voice of the Industry

Inclusion by design: understanding the human impact of exclusion

Friday 21 January 2022 10:02 CET | Editor: Alin Popa | Voice of the industry

Louise Maynard-Atem from Women in Identity shares the initial results of Code of Conduct research, aiming to understand the impact of being excluded from financial services has on individuals across two geographies

In 2021, we at Women in Identity kicked off our inaugural piece of research to create a Code of Conduct for the digital identity industry (as described in a previous Paypers article, here). The first work-stream within this research project focused on understanding the impact that being excluded from financial services has on individuals across two geographies (the United Kingdom, as a representative of a mature market, and Ghana, as a representative of an emerging market). This work has now been completed with the support of Caribou Digital and Habitus Insights and we are now starting to share our initial findings and insights, as well as giving more detail on the work that was carried out.

What we did

As well as understanding and summarising the existing literature on this topic, the bulk of the work centred on conversations with two different sets of stakeholders across our two markets; the end-users, who have faced exclusion from financial services, and the experts, who are responsible for implementing digital identity solutions across the ecosystem.

End-user interviews – across both the UK and Ghana, we interviewed 20 individuals who live with the impact of identity exclusion when trying to access financial services. Whilst there were some country-specific differences between the stories from the two groups of end-users, there were a number of similarities particularly around the specific demographics who are more likely to face exclusion. The factors that limit an end-user’s ability to obtain an ID document were similar across both markets, for example, a lack of finances, lack of breeder documents (e.g. a passport), lack of knowledge on how the process works.

Expert interviews – we interviewed identity experts (five in each geography) to understand the current state of digital identity in their respective markets, and the approaches that were already being taken to drive greater inclusion. We were also able to take the challenges posed by the end-users and discuss how these might be addressed with the experts from the respective markets.

What we discovered

As a result of the in-depth interviews with both end-users and experts, five key principles have emerged that will be foundational in creating the Code of Conduct. The key principles are based on the following:

  1. The user is at the centre of the ID ecosystem (not just one, but many ID systems)

  2. Social norms are changing, and we need to acknowledge these – i.e. ‘one size does not fit all’ – and we need our processes and customer journeys to reflect these changes;

  3. We need to move towards proportionality, vouching, tiered KYC, and e-KYC (drawing from other government data) to reduce the burden of identity on the user;

  4. Identification may be individual, but we live in networks of people that already know us – we need to account better for delegated authorities and intermediaries and ensure we are leveraging the network effects that already exist to improve the user experience;

  5. It is essential to build diversity into ID or ID-based design and development teams, to ensure that we are designing for the broadest range of potential users.

For more information, you can download the full report from the Women in Identity website (here), and you can watch the full stories of those who live with the impact of exclusion on the Women in Identity YouTube channel (here).

What comes next 

Building on the outputs from this phase of our research, we are planning the following workstreams to expand our work on the Identity Code of Conduct:

  • Understanding the economic impact of exclusion – this work stream will look at the economic value of ID exclusion with a focus on our representative geographies of the UK and Ghana (e.g. the growth potential is USD X bn on GDP with ID inclusion). It will also assess the potential financial growth for financial institutions that build products that work for the full population that they are intended to serve. We are also exploring possible econometric models and associated data collection strategies that will allow us to measure and benchmark the financial performance of companies who sign up to design products and services according to the Code of Conduct principles.

  • Creating the identity Code of Conduct – here we will focus on creating guiding principles that highlight end-user requirements - that in turn will help satisfy a good end-user experience FOR ALL and assure good representation within identity product teams. The Code of Conduct will be based on consultation with key influencing organisations from the public, private and non-profit sectors, as well as working with solution providers to understand what guidance they require.

  • Delivering an implementation framework – taking the Code of Conduct we will create a best-in-class, simple to use, robust framework that can be adopted consistently by all product development teams across the identity sector. The output from this work stream will be a publishable framework that helps to identify and mitigate bias within identity products. 

  • The subsequent work streams will take place over the course of 2022, with a view to having early adopters of the Code of Conduct formally committing to abide by the principles at the start of 2023.

Interested in being involved

We are continuing to fundraise for the remaining work streams within the project, and are always looking for industry collaborators to get involved with the development and implementation of the Code of Conduct. Please get in touch with Women in Identity directly (via Louise Maynard-Atem) if you would like to discuss being a part of this work.

About Louise Maynard-Atem

Louise Maynard-Atem is currently the research lead for, and executive committee member of the non-profit organisation, Women in Identity. Louise is also head of data insights at GBG, focusing on unifying the identity, fraud, and location intelligence business lines through a comprehensive and ambitious data strategy. 



About Women in Identity

Women in Identity is a not-for-profit, volunteer-led network of predominantly (but not exclusively) women working in the identity sector. Through engagement and outreach, we support nearly 2000 members worldwide to bring their own value to the world of identity, and through our research agenda, we are working to bring greater inclusion to the digital identity sector.

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Keywords: identity verification, digital identity, identity theft, KYC
Categories: Fraud & Financial Crime
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Fraud & Financial Crime

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