Guess who’s getting the world’s first self-sovereign national digital ID?

Article by Durga M Sengupta: “Bhutan — a small Himalayan nation with less than 800,000 people — has decided to roll out a national digital identity system for all its citizens. “National digital ID is the platform on which digitization and online services of banks to hospitals to taxation to universities, everything can come online with 100% assurance,” Ujjwal Deep Dahal, CEO of Druk Holding and Investments, the commercial and investment arm of the government which developed the system, told me over a video call from the capital city of Thimphu.

The national ID system has been built using blockchain technology, which will provide each individual a “self-sovereign” identity, meaning it can only be controlled by the citizen and no other entity, similar to how cryptocurrencies work.

The country’s 7-year-old crown prince, Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, was the first to enroll in the new system, and it is expected to reach the rest of the population within the year, Dahal said. 

“Once I’m onboarded, the interesting part about self-sovereign identity is that only I have my verified credentials in my wallet, in my phone. Nobody has access to it thereon but me, not even the government,” he said. The onboarding process takes about 5 seconds, Dahal estimated. “In our system, you will not visit any booth to register yourself. You’ll just download an app; share your details, selfie, and national ID card; and in the back end, the AI algorithm will run and say, ‘Okay, I can give you a verified credential,’” he said. This timeline would differ for people who don’t have smartphones or require assistance.

Druk Holding and Investments has been instrumental in setting up various other parallel projects, including the recently announced Bhutanverse — a metaverse that displays Bhutanese art, architecture, and motifs…(More)”. See also: Field Report: On the Emergent Use of Distributed Ledger Technologies for Identity Management