National Digital Identity set to launch tomorrow

The Bhutan National Digital Identity (NDI), a pioneering blockchain-based national cryptographic identity system, is set to launch tomorrow. The Bhutan NDI offers a unified digital identity for every Bhutanese citizen, enabling a single sign-on and effortless integration of this identity across various services, locations, and time. In this story, our reporter Devika Pradhan will guide us through what Bhutanese citizens can anticipate from the Bhutan NDI.

Once the Bhutan NDI application goes live tomorrow, Bhutanese citizens can download the application right to their phones.

After a simple login process, government services like construction approvals, land taxes, passport services, birth and death registration certificates, RUB degree certificates, and other business services can be accessed with your own digital wallets.

Now, it is a digital wallet, because you can link your bank account to the NDI app and make transactions without having to open other apps. For now, only the Bank of Bhutan is linked with the NDI app.

The GovTech Agency says people can do the tedious work of having to visit different offices, online, right through the app.

“So, essentially what this enables for Bhutan is the ability to take almost all services and make them available online. This can virtually transform how services are provided in Bhutan. This is regarded as not only services that the government provides to citizens, but it can extend to even the private sector,” said Jigme Tenzing, Acting Secretary of GovTech Agency.

While the Bhutan NDI has taken shape, people have raised concerns about putting all their personal information in one place. However, the GovTech Agency says the NDI system incorporates biometric data such as fingerprint and facial recognition to verify and authenticate the identity of individuals.

“It was His Majesty’s personal vision to ensure and guarantee the data privacy of citizens. That is why we adopted a self-sovereign identity model wherein data is authenticated and trusted data is provided to citizens so that they can determine who they want to share it with, what data they want to share and when they want to share it,” said Jigme Tenzing, the Acting Secretary.

While the Bhutan NDI assures data privacy, the GovTech Agency said that people should be careful before sharing sensitive information or making transactions through the digital wallet.

The Acting Secretary of the GovTech Agency said that they are exploring possibilities of offering the Bhutan NDI features offline for rural communities.

“We are also happy to listen to the public, to hear their priorities, what are the services that they feel will be important to them and we can prioritize accordingly. In terms of the private sector, we are also discussing how we can engage the youths to innovate on the platform. So, we can also transform the way that business is carried out in Bhutan,” said Jigme Tenzing, the Acting Secretary.

The National Digital Identity Act of Bhutan 2023 received Royal Assent in July, making Bhutan the first sovereign nation to use a comprehensive decentralised identity framework.

The National Digital Project started as a key transformation agenda to pursue His Majesty’s vision to use technology to transform Bhutan.

Devika Pradhan

Edited by Sherub Dorji

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