Hong Kong Government Launches Complete Digital Identity Platform - Identity Review - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

The Hong Kong government rang in the new year with a significant innovation in digital identity. On December 29, they announced that their new, one-stop “iAM Smart” digital identity platform would be going live on December 30. It marks a significant step in adopting a complete, singular digital identity, stored on a user’s mobile phone, that enables access to multiple digital services.

The “iAM Smart” system is made available through a mobile app that is available to download free-of-charge.

Details and Development

The “iAM Smart” system, developed by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO), unlocks four primary functions for users: authentication, form filling, personalized notifications and digital signing.

“iAM Smart” allows users to access 20 frequently used government online services, such as managing gas and water utilities. Many public and private companies have been involved with the platform as well, with 180 fintech companies expressing significant interest and joining the pilot sandbox program. Along with the app, in order to streamline widespread integration into existing and emerging technologies, the OGCIO has also developed a public API so that anyone who wishes to use the system can build it into their product.

It is expected that the “iAM Smart” system will be able to access over 110 online services by mid-2021. All Hong Kong Identity Card (HKIC) holders aged 11 or above are eligible to register for the system.

The Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Alfred Sit (right), and the Government Chief Information Officer, Victor Lam (left), explain the "iAM Smart" one-stop personalized digital service platform and display the "iAM Smart" mobile application at a press conference.

The Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Alfred Sit (right), and the Government Chief Information Officer, Victor Lam (left), explain the “iAM Smart” one-stop personalized digital service platform and display the “iAM Smart” mobile application at a press conference.


Implications on Hong Kong and the Digital Identity Landscape

Studies have thoroughly documented the transformational benefits of a secure and comprehensive digital identity system, especially in terms of creating a more inclusive and effective government. Over one billion people in the world lack a form of identification, meaning they miss out on government aid packages, bank accounts, employment opportunities and much more. Additionally, the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that 3.2 billion people have a recognized ID but limited potential to use that ID online.

In the modern era, data privacy presents a significant and well-founded concern with any significant technological project such as this one. According to the press release, the OGCIO assures that selfies provided during the registration process will be immediately deleted, and personal information will be encrypted and stored in government data center facilities. They also consulted the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data and independent third parties to assess privacy and security risks.

The news of the “iAM Smart” system has several significant bearings on the digital identity landscape. It demonstrates one of the first instances of a large-scale, one-stop digital identity rollout that allows users to access online services with a single ID. Implementation requires several synchronous operations at a large scale, including developing the app, streamlining registration by setting up self-registration kiosks throughout the region and creating teams to assist with the registration process. Several other nations, such as the U.S. and Mexico, have multiple identity systems managed by multiple organizations, but many believe that the future of digital ID lies in an integrated, single platform like “iAM Smart”.


Lydia You is a computer scientist from Princeton University living in New York City. She is a Tech Innovation Fellow at Identity Review covering the intersection of global tech policy, internet culture and the future of digital media.

Contact Lydia You at lydia@identityreview.com.

Do you have information to share with Identity Review? Email us at press@identityreview.com.

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