Accenture, Microsoft building blockchain ID prototype for healthcare, others

Prototype could help by creating a digital identity for 1.1 billion people around the world who don’t have a formal ID.
By Bernie Monegain
12:31 PM
Blockchain in healthcare

Accenture and Microsoft have created a prototype based on blockchain technology with the aim of creating a digital identity for 1.1 billion people around the world who don’t have a formal ID.

According to Accenture, one-sixth of the world’s population cannot participate in cultural, political, economic and social life for lack of ID.

Establishing identity, Accenture executives said in a statement, is a must for gaining access to healthcare – and to a host of other services benefits and activities, such including education, voting, banking, mobile communications, housing, and family and childcare benefits.

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The model – called ID2020 – builds on Accenture’s blockchain capabilities and its experience developing large-scale biometric systems. It operates on Microsoft Azure’s cloud platform.

Accenture and Microsoft demonstrated the prototype earlier this month at the ID2020 Summit at the UN. The goal of ID2020 is to make digital identity a reality by employing a “technology-forward” approach to leverage secure and well-established systems.

The concept is a type of database system that enables multiple parties to share access to the same data with “an extremely high level of confidence and security,” Accenture executives said.

[Also: Blockchain and healthcare privacy laws just don't mix]

Accenture and Microsoft executives say the prototype is designed to provide individuals direct consent over who has access to their personal information, and when to release and share data. The distributed database architecture, maintained by multiple, trusted parties on the blockchain, means there is no need for a central authority.

The prototype does not store any personally identifiable information, instead tapping into existing “off-chain” systems when the individual user grants access.

“People without a documented identity suffer by being excluded from modern society,” David Treat, a managing director in Accenture’s global blockchain business, said in a statement. “Our prototype is personal, private and portable, empowering individuals to access and share appropriate information when convenient and without the worry of using or losing paper documentation.”

“We believe that identity is one of the most important needs in international development and an area where Microsoft and the private sector are uniquely positioned to contribute,” Yorke Rhodes, global business strategist at Microsoft, added.

The Accenture prototype is designed to interoperate with existing identity systems so that personally identifiable information always resides “off chain.” It aligns to principles of the Decentralized Identity Foundation. Microsoft is a founding member of the organization, and uses the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance’s private, or “permissioned,” blockchain protocol.

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