Global: Australia Advances in Digital ID Interoperability

Australia Advances in Digital ID Interoperability
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Australia is making significant progress in integrating the country’s digital identity schemes, aiming for interoperability between platforms such as the federal myGov and the New South Wales government’s Service NSW app.

Recent announcements underscore the government’s commitment to this initiative, as highlighted by an opinion piece in The Mandarin. Key indicators include the latest Data and Digital Ministers’ Meeting (DDMM) communiqué, which mentioned a “framework for all governments.” Additionally, Australian Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten announced that credentials like New South Wales licenses would be compatible with the state’s version of a digital wallet.

In June, New South Wales made a pivotal move towards a national digital identity wallet by launching its first digital credential, a digital first-aid certificate. Late last year, Service NSW also introduced a digitized Working with Children Check (WWCC). Moreover, the New South Wales digital ID initiative received AU$21.4 million in new funding in the latest budget.

Interstate digital driver licenses (DDLs) are now recognized as valid age documents in New South Wales, thanks to the 24-Hour Economy Legislation Amendment (Vibrancy Reforms) Act 2023. Other Australian states have also developed mobile driver licenses.

Concerns from Banks Over Government Spending

Despite these advancements, banks have raised concerns about government spending on digital ID projects. The consumer data right, a scheme designed to help bank customers switch accounts, has attracted only 174,000 active users, or 0.3 percent of bank customers, as of the end of last year, according to a new analysis by the Australian Banking Association. The report warns that the AU$1.5 billion (US$1 billion) program risks becoming a white elephant and suggests that other government projects, including the upcoming digital ID system, might face similar challenges.

The My Health Record data-sharing scheme is another example cited. Despite the government investing AU$2 million (US$1.3 million) in the program, less than 2 percent of documents in the My Health Record system are being accessed by doctors.

However, fintech companies argue that it is premature to declare the consumer data right a failure. These companies have urged the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to release the actual user numbers.

Meanwhile, banks and large retailers have shown limited enthusiasm for Australia’s upcoming digital ID system, opting instead to develop their own identity app, Connect ID.

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