When the Caribbean island of Barbados issues its new national ID, citizens will have the option to download it and present it via an app on their smartphones, reports Barbados Today. They quote Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology Davidson Ishmael (pictured) as saying:
The mobile version of the cardholder’s national ID will be linked to a secure infrastructure and trust services that facilitate identification and authentication within the digital environment. In addition to the facilitation of online transactions, the digital mobile ID will be able to be used for in-person verification as well. The new ID will be a single source of identification that has been approved by the Government of Barbados.
Ishmael also said the government was seeking to improve its cyber defenses by partnering with a leading cybersecurity business whilst transforming capital Bridgetown into a smart city with parking, traffic and environmental monitoring controlled by computers. The plans include free internet access and a mobile guide for tourists. Ishmael described the digital transformation of Barbados as “arguably one of the most ambitious programmes of change of any government anywhere in the world”.
Barbados ranks amongst the most developed and stable democracies in the Caribbean, with a high quality of life. Their ambition to attract high-paid professionals was made plain during the COVID pandemic, when they created a special 12-month visa for anyone who wanted to ‘work remotely from paradise’. Nevertheless, creating a national ID for use on mobile phones as part of a widespread transition to online mobile services is a reminder that the technology that will power sweeping change is not limited to a few big, rich countries. Those governments which drive forward a digital transformation will deliver a much more rapid improvement in the quality of life for its citizens. The chief obstacle to this transition is not technology or cost, but whether the government and country has the culture and ambition to embrace change.