Congratulations to GIF investee Simprints, who scooped the World Bank’s Mission Billion Challenge this month for the development of a toolkit that uses audio messages to help people provide informed consent before the collection of their biometric data.
The Mission Billion Challenge is aimed at surfacing innovative solutions to tackle digital identity issues for the world’s ‘invisible’ one billion people – those who have no way of proving who they are and may therefore be excluded from essential public services and financial products. The challenge explores how digital identification systems in developing countries can be better designed or adapted to protect people’s privacy and equip them with greater control over their personal data.
Simprints’ winning toolkit works by creating audio recordings of consent text in the local language, in the voice of a local leader, to ensure that beneficiaries understand their privacy rights. By enabling frontline workers to play audio recorded consent conditions before proceeding to biometric fingerprinting, the toolkit aims to strengthen beneficiary awareness and ensure privacy rights are respected.
GIF recognises that in the digital age, the lack of ‘good ID’ can result in barriers to accessing opportunities being created through the digital economy – an important development problem that disproportionately impacts our target beneficiaries who live on <$2/day. In 2016 we were delighted to invest $200,000 in Simprints to help fund the development and implementation of a sustainable delivery model of its biometric identity hardware and software products in Bangladesh and Nepal. In addition to promising commercial traction, the hardware presented as cost-effective, there was significant interest from potential clients, and the Simprints team were competent, impact-oriented and evidence-committed.
Simprints CEO Toby Norman said: “Privacy is incredibly important, not just for the developed world, but for everyone, everywhere. Simprints is thrilled to be working with the World Bank on the Mission Billion Challenge to make genuine informed consent a reality.”
Simprints is contracted to reach >4 million beneficiaries across Ethiopia and Bangladesh by 2021; and the team are in active conversation with various government ministries of health, education, and finance, as well as large development agencies, to reach an additional 10 million through national-scale programmes by 2025.
Image credit: World Bank