The ability to easily prove identity, to securely share data, and to make and receive payments is critical for full and meaningful participation in today’s digital economy. The COVID-19 pandemic showed how the digital public infrastructure (DPI) that enables these transactions is also essential for resilience. Unfortunately, access to DPI is far from universal. Approximately 850 million people worldwide lack any official ID—let alone a digital version—and around 85 million unbanked adults still receive government payments, such as pensions and social support, in cash. Additionally, countries need to ensure that DPI maintains security and personal data protection.
ID4D and G2Px initiatives harness global and cross-sectoral knowledge, World Bank financing instruments, and partnerships to support countries in issuing digital IDs and implementing digital public infrastructure, to maximize their developmental potential while mitigating exclusion, digital security, and personal data protection risks. This work aims to realize the transformational potential of identification systems and G2P payments, and cuts across three pillars:
- Thought leadership: Advancing understanding of good practices related to DPI, growing the evidence base through new research and data collection, and creating guidance and tools for practitioners.
- Global platforms: Shaping and augmenting the DPI agenda at all levels by raising awareness, building partnerships, developing and supporting norms and digital public goods, and facilitating peer-to-peer learning.
- Country and regional action: Providing technical and financial assistance (leveraging various World Bank instruments and co-financing) to countries for inclusive and secure DPI, with emphasis on identification, civil registration, and digital G2P payment ecosystems.
Since their launches in 2015 and 2020 respectively, the ID4D and G2Px initiatives have supported more than 60 countries in providing improved IDs, benefiting an estimated 550 million people. Results achieved to date include examples from a range of contexts.
- Philippines: Since 2018, the World Bank has been a trusted partner of the government of the Philippines, collaborating in the design and rollout of PhilSys, a new national ID program. ID4D advised the government to develop the legal framework and accessible registration services for Philsys, and integrated privacy-by-design into the program. Eighty million Filipinos (90 percent of the eligible population) registered with PhilSys since 2021, and most have received their ID. A program to make free bank account opening available for poor Filipinos at registration centers led to 8 million new bank accounts. PhilSys is now being used to enable ID-holders to better access financial, local government, and social protection services. Until PhilSys was established in 2019, the Philippines was one of 23 countries without a universally accessible ID system, which resulted in significant exclusion. The World Bank is now advising on how PhilSys can be used for more beneficiary-centered social assistance.
- Nigeria: In 2021, the World Bank helped the government of Nigeria scale up the National Cash Transfer Program and utilize the national payments architecture more effectively, reaching more than 10 million beneficiaries with payments through accounts chosen by beneficiaries. Through the Nigeria ID4D project, the World Bank has supported strengthening personal data protection in the national ID system, including reducing data fields collected, strengthening digital security, and the promulgation of the country’s first personal data protection law.
- Mozambique: Since 2021, the World Bank’s engagement helped improve registration business processes to enable the issuance of national IDs and birth certificates to 75,000 internally displaced persons, improving their access to formal employment and financial services.
- Angola: The World Bank advised on the use of digital payments to deliver the social assistance program, Kwenda, which has also informed the transition to digital payments across other G2P programs in the country, including scholarships and adaptive safety nets.
ID4D and G2Px initiatives have also made strides in advancing thought leadership and promoting global platforms around identification.
- In 2021, ID4D convened more than 30 organizations to develop and adopt the Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development, a normative framework for inclusive and secure ID systems. This was an update to the first version, also convened by ID4D, in 2017.
- Launched in 2019, the ID4D Practitioner’s Guide makes available a range of resources, and has been downloaded more than 25,000 times in 200 countries as of October 2023.
- Since 2016, ID4D has been periodically updating a Global Dataset that has become the authoritative estimate for the number of people without an official ID. It also houses an extensive database of the characteristics of ID systems.
- In 2021, G2Px developed an ideal scenario and building blocks for a modern G2P payments architecture that can support long-term development outcomes digital G2P payments.