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Trusting who you know and knowing who to trust

Learn how to create a chain of trust using unique identity management solutions.


For many government agencies, the demands of a growing number of people accessing services, the sophistication of cybercrime and identity theft and the need to remain cost efficient are placing pressure on them to establish more swiftly whose identity can be trusted. If identity management solutions are used to create a chain of trust—one that links people with their unique identities using multiple modalities— government agencies can better assess identity claims and efficiently deliver public service for the future.

In a risk averse world, biometrics is the gold standard for facilitating identification—but biometrics alone is not the whole story. Only when using biometrics as the “identity glue” to bind together biographics and background information (such as passports) into a chain of trust can public service agencies establish we are who we say we are and our eligibility remains. Using a database that stores captured information from one interaction to the next—whether checking in at an airport, seeking government benefits, or applying for a driving license—pre-shared information allows agencies to focus on the differences between the last data capture and now, rather than verifying each aspect of the person every time. In short, the trust model is a more robust, single-event means to identify people that, in turn, increases security and reduces the cost and time of data collection.

Watch Mark Crego, Global Managing Director, Accenture Border and Identity Services share insights on the rewards and returns of creating a chain of trust using unique identity solutions.

Filmed at Smart Borders 2014, Graham Zebedee, Head, Border Security Unit, UK Home Office and Isabelle Moeller, Chief Executive, Biometrics Institute share their perspectives.


In a world that operates from a position of distrust, establishing trust is complex. For the traveler, it may mean queues and delays as border controls seek to verify information in real time, every time. Collecting biometrics incurs a cost that is often more than countries, airports—and travelers, in terms of time—can afford. The sheer volume of biometrics creates storage and data mining issues; for instance, the European Union Biometric Matching System holds more than 70 million identity records and can process more than 100,000 transactions a day. Privacy constraints are a consideration, too. Legally, in the European Union, fingerprints cannot be retained from one entry to the next entry (they can be retained for a maximum of six months between entry and exit) so border agencies are reliant on the traveler to opt in to their records being retained—a process that has not been fully embraced.


Accenture research shows that, with the right rewards, people are not only willing but eager to participate in programs that require the sharing of personal information. In an online citizen poll we found that 58 percent of citizens are likely to share biometrics in some form for faster processing through customs and border control, and 56 percent are likely to share for more convenient travel. Indeed, there is a long association between incentive and reward; loyalty clubs or frequent flyer programs are popular when preferential treatment, such as better seating, or faster processing, is explained. In such rewards-based programs, the consumer makes a conscious decision to share information when signing up.

For instance, the successful Global Entry program that enables expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States, receives 25,000 to 30,000 applications a month. The program not only saves time and effort but also automatically qualifies the traveler for a domestic program that is screening around a million passengers a month. As a result, in exchange for personal biometric data and an in-person interview with a customs and border protection officer, the average Global Entry traveler can expect to spend just 60 seconds in the boarding line.

If governments empower border management agencies to make it easy to retain and store biometric information for an extended period of time (such that a simple biometric verification, rather than enrolment, can be undertaken), greater numbers of travelers might recognize the rewards of opting in.


Establishing the chain of trust not only brings the rewards of security and speed, but also realizes tangible returns. This is vital for governments facing declining budgets while having to increase the number of programs that deliver benefits.

Faster passenger processing and registered traveler programs can also contain costs—but cost savings are not the only benefits of the chain of trust. Mobility affects jobseekers, especially if they are unable to come and go from a country in a highly facilitated way. Building trust can increase economic viability to realize a competitive advantage or affect the economics of a country; for instance, the Aadhaar program enables 600 million citizens to receive benefits from the Indian government. Using the Aadhaar programme to carry out Direct Benefit Transfer schemes, the government may realize savings in the region of 1.2 per cent of India’s gross domestic product.

Identity fraud is already big business. Establishing a chain of trust offers compelling value to society whether related to security issues at our borders or benefits provisioning. By adopting a holistic view of identity management and establishing the chain of trust, governments and border management agencies can make informed, swift decisions to deliver public service for the future.