Queen Máxima gave a keynote speech on the importance of owning digital identity documents as part of an event organised by the World Bank Group.
The Queen spoke at the Inclusive Digital ID for a Resilient Recovery from COVID-19 event within the framework of the Identification for Development at the World Bank Group, where she advocated for the need for digital identity documents to help “secure access to financial services such as a bank or savings account, insurance, loans or pensions and the importance of these for economic recovery for countries in the context of the corona crisis,” according to the Royal House.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has actually caused the deepest global recession that we’ve had in eight decades,” Queen Máxima said to start her speech. “150 million people around the world could potentially be pushed back into extreme poverty by the end of 2021. This has been especially challenging for the most poor and marginalised people across the globe, certainly people who previously had limited or no access to financial services and resources prior to this pandemic.”
She continued: “This pandemic has also demonstrated the importance of digital public goods. Digital ID and interoperable payments have played a key role to help countries weather the crisis and explore new opportunities. Over 200 nations have expanded social protection measures, many using foundational ID systems and digital payments to provide transfers directly into bank accounts or mobile wallets.”
Queen Máxima also noted how it’s mostly women who will be affected by the financial crisis of the current pandemic, as they’re most likely to lose their jobs over men.
Queen Máxima said, “Now is a great time to invest in the digital infrastructure and to pass reforms that allow countries and people to capitalize on digital technology that ensure the underserved are not left behind. This matters most for countries in Africa and Asia, where the majority of the one billion people without proof of official identity reside. And it is crucial to empower women and the poor in the digital economy, particularly as half of low-income women do not possess an ID.”
She continued, talking about how digital IDs have benefitted economies, saying, “ID systems, which are part of a stack of digital public goods, have helped individuals and businesses take advantage of the digital economy. This includes a vast array of use cases from e-KYC, online payments and other financial services, access to markets, and delivery of goods and services, to contracting, telemedicine and online education. By building in modern data sharing and consent frameworks into streamlined enrollment, authentication and authorisation processes, countries do have the opportunity to reimagine the digital future of their economies and their people.”
Speaking at the event in her role as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development and for her work with the and margins of the IMF and World Bank Virtual Annual Meeting, she also offered the support of the larger group of organisations involved.
“My partners and I stand ready to provide technical support and share international best practices. This includes the G7 Partnership for Women Digital Financial Inclusion in Africa which places an explicit focus on identification as a key enabler.
“Finally, I would like to stress how important ID is at this time to help countries respond to and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. I wish you all much success in your efforts – it is really important that we show leadership by example and by also communication and dialogue with other people so that we can help them out. Thank you so much.”