As we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and more transactions are conducted digitally, a digital representation of one’s identity has become increasingly important; this applies to humans, devices, legal entities and beyond.

For humans, this proof of identity is a fundamental prerequisite to access critical services and participate in modern economic, social and political systems. For devices, their digital identity is critical in conducting transactions, especially as the devices will be able to transact relatively independent of humans in the near future. For legal entities, the current state of identity management consists of inefficient manual processes that could benefit from new technologies and architecture to support digital growth.

As the number of digital services, transactions and entities grows, it will be increasingly important to ensure the transactions take place in a secure and trusted network where each entity can be identified and authenticated. 

Identity is the first step of every transaction between two or more parties.  Digital identity can have a transformative effect on a number of sectors and entities as described in the following section. 

The World Economic Forum White Paper on Digital Identity explores the challenges with current identity systems and the trends that will have significant impact on identity in the future.