YuTru, Papua New Guinea’s first digital ID or ‘trust framework’, will enable more people to access and participate in the online economy. In this exclusive interview with Business Advantage PNG, Tony Willenberg, consultant to the project, tells us how YuTru is progressing.
Business Advantage PNG (BAPNG): How do you perceive the future of mobile money systems in PNG?
TW: Mobile money systems are here to stay because they are lower cost and more convenient.
Globally, banks are reforming to stay relevant to their customers and this includes opening up their systems to mobile money and other fintech service providers.
‘YuTru’s integrated and highly secure digital identity will help PNG to leapfrog into the digital age and capitalise on the new and emerging technology and financial solutions.’
Underpinning the uptake of digital financial services is digital trustworthiness. All banks, mobile money systems and other fintech service providers must still be able to identify with whom they are dealing with on both sides of the transaction, both domestically and internationally.
This is where YuTru’s integrated and highly secure digital identity will help PNG to leapfrog into the digital age and to capitalise on the new and emerging technology and financial solutions.
BAPNG: How will increased connectivity in PNG help YuTru?
TW: YuTru is first and foremost a digital identity that is designed to be acquired and used electronically online and through mobile phone data networks.
Its development coincides with the major advances in connectivity and electrification taking place across the country, including the majority Australian Government funded Coral Sea fibre optic cable that will transform telecommunications in PNG, and the domestic submarine and terrestrial network connecting the provincial areas.
‘Within 10 years all PNG customers will have a YuTru identity.’
As an interim measure, while these connectivity projects are rolled out, people who want to start transacting electronically before they have internet access at home will be able to get online in the branches of our foundation institutions across the country.
The fact that YuTru will be based on international best practices in computer security and cryptography means that not only will it be easier for people to register and transact electronically, but they can also be confident that those transactions will be secure, and that they will have maximum control over their personal information.
BAPNG: How has YuTru progressed since it was announced in March 2019?
Tony Willenberg (TW): We have developed the scheme’s legal framework that binds all participating institutions to adopt and follow an agreed rules-based system. The rules are now being developed to focus on ensuring data security and customer privacy, as well as harmonising the way digital identities are registered and issued.
‘The result is better sales opportunities for SMEs, and increased competition for customers who get more choice.’
We have established a financially sustainable model for the business to operate without government or donor assistance.
Revenue will be generated in return for the technology, skills and benefits that the scheme will provide its members, which include a significantly lower risk of misidentification from using a simple, low-cost, integrated and trustworthy technology platform to verify all customers.
BAPNG: When do you plan to issue the first YuTru digital identity?
TW: We are working to a timeline that will see the first YuTru digital identity issued on 1 January 2021, and expect that within 10 years all PNG customers will have a YuTru identity.
Until then, we have a lot of work to do to establish the system in a collaborative manner, starting with bringing investors on board.
The initial work has been undertaken in consultation with key consortium of partners, including commercial banks, the PNG Digital Commerce Association and the Bank of Papua New Guinea, and is being supported by Neocapita Security Consulting with assistance from the Australian Government.
‘YuTru will reduce the cost of doing business for SMEs, and they will have access to better information about what their customers want from them.’
We currently have a core group of authorised institutions (as defined under the Banking Act) who are evaluating the investment documentation, and we are confident that the scheme will attract a minimum of five to ten ‘foundation’ institutions, and that there will be an initial commitment of investment funds in early 2020.
Private sector investors will immediately benefit from the preparatory work that has been done to date, and this will allow them to immediately acquire the technology platform.
BAPNG: How will YuTru help SMEs?
TW: YuTru will reduce the cost of doing business for SMEs, and they will have access to better information about what their customers want from them.
Costs will go down because the risks associated with fraud and misidentification will be vastly reduced as there is no way to cheat the system. This means that SMEs and big institutions alike will have access to rich data about how people are transacting, but without any personally identifiable information.
Once a customer is identified once at one institution, they will be known no matter where they transact. For example, a seller of product A will be able to benefit from the knowledge that customers also want product B at another institution, and may therefore decide to offer it themselves.
The result is better sales opportunities for SMEs, and increased competition for customers who get more choice, better products and services at lower prices.
Tony Willenberg is a Computer Security Consultant with Neocapita Security, which is consulting to the Digital Identification Bureau Limited, trading as YuTru.
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