I can purchase items in most shops using my credit card, debit card, Apple pay, and so on. I can go to almost any ATM anywhere in the world and withdraw cash in the local currency. SImilarly, I can fill up our car from any petrol station that sells unleaded gasoline.
This surprises no one. And we all take it for granted.
Some gift card are store specific, where others can be used in a variety of shops. Most loyalty cards are store specific, but others (e.g. aeroplan, nectar, avios, etc.) can be used in multiple different ways.
Each card has its own governance model outlining how it can be used and how the various actors work together. Gift cards are pre-paird and usually require little personal information about who ‘owns’ it. While loyalty cards, credit cards, and debit cards track everything you do with them and have lots of personal information connected to them.
Currently most aid agencies who collect data digitally utilise a type of pre-paid agency specific gift card that requires the personal information and tracking of a credit card. Similar to a credit card there is no ability to use the aid agency card as a foundational identity document. It is not that, which is why we perhaps should call them profiles not digital identities.
And perhaps it’s time to consider how the governance of a credit card works. While the cardholder has a relationship with a specific bank, a mastercard can be issued by many different banks and used in many different shops. So how could we, as aid agencies, switch our model to having one assistance card that can be issued by all agencies, but enabling the cardholder to access services from any agencies.
But just like any model adoption, it isn’t a pure copy and paste. It needs to be adopted. However, perhaps there is more to learn than we think?
Photo by Claire Abdo