UN Calls for Greater Collaboration on Identity Blockchains

The United Nations has called for blockchain startups and developers to focus on the issue of identity, rather than new ‘silver bullet’ solutions.

According to statements from Neil McCann, lead adviser at the UN Development Programme, blockchain startups should view identity use cases as a contribution to the common good, as a means of ensuring greater compatibility for individual IDs across different blockchain solutions.

Speaking at the agency’s ID2020 event, which was specifically set up to investigate issues of identity on the blockchain, McCann told over 500 delegates that this required cooperation and collaboration between developers, in a bid to assist the 1.5 billion people worldwide who lack the required legal identities.

McCann said that by bringing together expertise from across the blockchain development sector, private interests could help solve this problem in the collective interest, ahead of an increasing dependency on this type of technology in future.

“If the private tech sector could collectively work with the UN and collectively go together, I think we can solve that problem.”

Atefeh Riazi, the UN’s chief information officer, reiterated similar sentiments in calling for the tech industry to work together to deliver a solution to this problem.

“Here at the UN, we invite you to partner with us and to partner with each other in a way that we can make sustainable development goals.”

Identity is one of the big issues affecting blockchain solutions, with the technology reliant on accurately and securely identifying individuals. This is essential in a range of uses, not least in financial services with KYC (Know Your Customer) regulations commanding companies to securely identify customers during the onboarding process.

For some 1.5 billion of the world’s poorest, this is even more of a challenge, with no formal legal identification available, let alone a blockchain model for identification.

This also plays an important role in international aid, and the UN’s focus on bringing partners together to solve this issue could see aid being more effectively targeted with the help of blockchain solutions.

However, some analysts have suggested that blockchain identification may be unnecessary, and that by using existing technologies, it’s already possible to identify those who most need the UN’s assistance.

It remains to be seen whether the industry will respond in kind to the UN’s comments.