Stakeholders discuss challenges and opportunities of Bhutan NDI app

It is a little over eight months since the National Digital Identity rolled out last year. 92,000 users have onboarded the Bhutan NDI app as of June 17. Considering the total population and present difficulties faced by users, over 60 individuals from private, government and corporate sectors came together to discuss challenges, innovation and possible economic opportunities of the app. GovTech Agency in collaboration with the Bhutan NDI organised the conference on Thursday.

The conference not only focused on inclusivity, innovation and economic opportunities but also discussed the challenges faced by the stakeholders.

Jigme Tenzing, the secretary of GovTech Agency said the conference intends to enhance awareness about the app and seek collaborations from the stakeholders both in the government and private sector.

“Once we solve the problem of trust online, then you can build a lot of services on top of it. So, we are trying to educate our domestic IT industries and make them aware of what are the possibilities. We are trying to put them in touch with the NDI company so that if they have ideas, they can learn from the NDI company and seek help from them on how they can operationalise those ideas.”

He added that traditional Bhutanese businesses lack digital transformation and hence miss out on productivity gains.

He said there are abundant opportunities to increase productivity by leveraging digital solutions.

“We have a lot of companies that have built digital products, but this network, this connection is lacking. So, we thought that this would be an opportunity to get these two communities together so that they can find opportunities to use the solutions that our IT companies have. And the IT companies will have potentially a newer market stream that they can look at.”

At the conference the participants discussed and shared challenges and opportunities.

One of the participants said that the current language in the app which is English is also a challenge considering the country’s low literacy rate. The participant said it is important to make the app available in the national language to increase its accessibility.

“The other one is for people who are visually impaired, it is important to have access through voice. So, in the group, there was a recommendation on using Siri voice app within the NDI app so that people who cannot see can easily access the platform and similarly to make the app accessible for those who cannot hear through an alternative medium,” said Sonam Pem, the executive director of the Tarayana Foundation.

She added that considering that more than 50 per cent of the population belongs to rural areas, it is crucial to onboard them given the importance of the initiative.

“Some five to six years ago we did not have electricity we did not have internet penetration in most of the rural communities but today we have most of our rural communities on all the social media platforms. So, we really have to leverage this opportunity to bring them on this digital platform but I think how we do this is important because by just creating awareness we wouldn’t be able to do much. So, there has to be a lot of hand-holding support in bringing our rural communities on this platform so that they can also equally access the services that will be provided.”

Likewise, another participant suggested ways to improve services through the NDI app.

Phuntsho Wangdi, the director of the Singye Group of Companies said, “For example, the land commission’s eSakor has all our information. Likewise, if such information is linked with NDI, it would ease the way of doing business or anything related to it. That way banks don’t have to ask every individual and the lengthy process of visiting offices will be shortened if we can provide all information from the Bhutan NDI app.”

Some participants also suggested incorporating health services into the wallet.

Jaques Von Benecke, the chief technology officer of the Druk Holding and Investments said that a health summary is underway.

The health summary will provide basic information such as the current medication and treatment an individual is on and the link to the user’s ePIS record.

“So if you are in the back of an ambulance and you maybe have a very bad event or stuff, they will be able to access your health summary to say, we know you will maybe have a cardiac problem, and so they won’t give you medicines that will either make your heart go faster or they won’t give you blood thinners. So from a human, from a personal perspective, it would mean that you would get better treatment before you get to the hospital and not maybe risk your life with the wrong types of medicines,” added the chief technology officer.

Participants raised several other concerns and challenges such as difficulty with facial recognition and double authentication.

Bhutan NDI company said that they are currently in the testing phase of making facial recognition easier for users. So, users can expect a few changes for easier access in the coming days.

Devika Pradhan

Edited by Phub Gyem

Top Stories

Related Stories


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Comments