National Digital ID Co (NDID), a firm that provides digital identity verification, believes the adoption of its service will expand as more Thais become familiar with digital innovation, chief executive Boonsun Prasitsumrit told the Bangkok Post in an exclusive interview.
The company's platform enables people to conduct important online transactions, such as opening a bank account, without needing to visit a branch for identity verification.
Presently there are 4.3 million individual accounts registered with the NDID platform.
Customers can enrol for the NDID service through its "identity providers", which are currently banks.
Mr Boonsun said around 30 million bank depositors are "dip chipping" their ID cards with commercial banks and specialised financial institutions.
"Dip chip" refers to part of an electronic verification process where consumers insert their ID cards into a bank's dip chip machine, which will send their information, including their photos, to the bank's database.
The bank has the facial recognition data of consumers via this process and the information can be used to sign up for the NDID service. The service provides digital ID verification for several situations, such as the opening of accounts at banks, securities companies, asset management firms, insurance firms and providers of digital loans.
Banks continue to collect customers' personal information under client consent as part of a customer verification process called "know your customer". The dip chip process is designed to increase the accuracy and speed of the data verification process.
NDID Co was established in 2018 through the cooperation of related public and privates parties to build a trusted digital identity and data sharing on NDID's platform.
The company entered into regulatory sandboxes with the Bank of Thailand and Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) in 2019 to test digital ID verification of individuals opening deposit accounts at several commercial banks.
In 2020, the testing was expanded to cover new account opening at securities companies, asset management companies, insurance firms, credit card issuers and digital loan providers.
NDID spent around two years testing retail digital ID authentication in these two sandboxes before exiting the ETDA version. It remains in the central bank's sandbox as there are some banks in the pipeline preparing to test their systems with NDID.
ETDA focuses on technology standards, such as identity assurance level and authenticator assurance level, while the central bank concentrates on consumer protection aspects. The central bank's testing of NDID required a broad spectrum of consumers, including street venders, to join the sandbox.
Earlier the company aimed for 50,000 accounts registered with its platform in the initial stage of operations, but actual registration has exceeded that expectation, Mr Boonsun said.
NDID assesses digital registration based on new deposit accounts at banks opened per year. With the pandemic outbreak the past two years, transactions on banks' digital platforms grew significantly, pushing up the use of the NDID platform accordingly, he said.
Normally new deposit accounts at banks number 4-5 million per year. The company targets 10% of new deposit bank accounts per year signing up to use the NDID platform, said Mr Boonsun.
The government's cash handout schemes to ease people's cost of living from the pandemic impact is another key factor driving the growth of NDID, he said. Qualified Thais are required to open new bank accounts at designated banks to receive the government's financial assistance.
The NDID's digital ecosystem has widened and strengthened, now claiming more than 100 members, said Mr Boonsun. Government Savings Bank, Government Housing Bank, and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives plan to test the NDID system in the central bank's regulatory sandbox in the middle of this year, he said.
Mr Boonsun said the company has piloted expansion of digital ID authentication to cover both private companies and public organisations over the past year.
The corporate sector represents the second phase of the company's digital ID verification service development. The move will help NDID expand the digital ecosystem and broaden use cases to support the country's digital economy, he said.
NDID is partnering with the Digital Government Development Agency to promote the adoption of the NDID platform among government agencies, including the Revenue Department, Land Department, the Department of Business Development, Student Loan Fund and the National Health Security Office. The project is also collaborating with the Thai Bankers' Association and the Government Financial Institutions Association.
NDID's service also supports digital signature and e-consent services. For corporate NDID, it should help shorten operational processes for users, said Mr Boonsun.
"If a company requires document approval from a board, it could take a month under traditional procedures. NDID processes can shorten that time to around five days," he said.
The company signed a memorandum of understanding with MasterCard (Thailand) to study a plan to link their digital ID platforms to offer a cross-border digital ID service. The plan would provide more convenience and security to users in several international use cases, said Mr Boonsun.
For instance, a Thai traveller going overseas can buy a mobile SIM card there and use NDID for identity verification, replacing a passport or other traditional documents. If an expat wants to apply for a mobile banking service in Thailand, the foreigner can use NDID for verification, he said.
Cross-border NDID service is expected to begin in Asia-Pacific. The project needs to study cross-border NDID linkage in terms of technique, law and related rules, Mr Boonsun said. This cross-border NDID service would support Thailand's digital tourism and digital economy sectors, he said.