Last month when I was preparing my Indian identity documents, I came across a service which lets the user issue and request government issued documents in a digital locker. I thought it was a convenient and nice initiative and decided to find out more about this app. I learnt that it is a part of the Digital India program which aims at digitally empowering Indian citizens. I was unaware of this app and asked my friends and family about their feedback and was surprised to find that only around 6 people used this app out of the 16 people I spoke with. This article takes a look at this program, the Digilocker app, its pros and cons and expectations and demands of the people or potential changes which could result in wider acceptance of the initiative.
Identity verification exists from thousands of years in mankind. The simplest form was identifying people based on their physical features, however, due to human errors other forms of identification were invented. Some of the most primitive methods consisted of verifying an individual’s jewellery, tattoos or other skin markings. With the advancements in written and spoken language, soon identification documents and records were created to form each individual’s identity proof. With the evolution of technology, these physical documents are now being digitised. We are in the transition phase of converting these physical analogues into digital form.
Monday 23rd July 2030; Sarah is running late to catch a flight to Bali. At the airport entrance, she scans her smartphone and gets easy access straight to the security check and boards her flight on time.
Tuesday 12th May 2026; Max is applying for a job and the company is asking for his identity documents. He has to push these documents from his online locker so that the company can have access to the necessary files and process his onboarding instantly.
These are some future scenarios which could be a result of this program. One of the many counties which has started to implement this is, India. With a population of over 1.2 billion people, this country is looking at digitally empowering Indian citizens by going paperless and digitising individual identity documents. There are separate applications for different kinds of documents, however the most common one is called Digilocker.
How does this app work?
This is an online Government service provider, which lets users have a cloud storage space for storing Government issued documents online. There are issuers who are authorised Government bodies like for Eg. Road and Transport Ministry which issues the driver’s license automatically on registering on the app and then there are requestors who request these issued documents from the user with push and pull mechanism for eg. An insurance company could ask for user documents verified by Digilocker.
Every Indian citizen gets a unique identity number called the Aadhar card which gets linked to the biometric data and registered mobile number of the user. These details are used for verifying the user when signing in for the application. Since this is a government application, all the issued documents are considered as legal and authentic. Additionally users are also allowed to upload scanned documents online and electronically sign them.
This process eliminates paperwork and the need to carry physical documents. Users can get access to verified documents at the touch of a fingertip. It is also convenient to have an authentic app taking care of these legal documents for the user.
However, on the downside, out of 1.2 billion people only about 18 million people are currently registered on this program. Why is it that a country with such a high population is having a limited response to this program?
Some of the main reasons of people not using these applications are :
- Users are unsure of security and have lack of trust in confidentiality and privacy :
“ I am not sure if my documents and information is getting shared without my consent”
“What if my account gets hacked and I lose my important documents?”
- There is a lack of need to download the app/ lack of knowledge:
“I do not need to download the app because I use Camscanner.”
“I did not know about the app until you mentioned”
“I have heard about it but I do not know how it works”
- There is a lack of digital literacy :
“I do not own a smart phone and I cannot read and write”
- It is not easy to use:
“I am confused about how the app works and how I can use it”
“I do not find the app user friendly”
When I asked people for their feedback, these are some of the answers I got for not using the app. These are some of the areas, which need to be tackled in order to get a better response for the digital India program. We shall take a look at which reforms or technologies could be implemented for better acceptance of the app.
What could be done?
According to the research conducted by the Government of India, people have certain demands and expectations from these applications. User needs and demands should be taken into consideration in order to improve the service and for a better user experience.
- The government should increase benefits of using this app, for users. Users should be motivated to use the apps.
”I downloaded Digilocker because my insurance company needed documents verified from Digilocker”
- Another important step is to make a trusted profile of users with a list of data used by bank, govt, etc and compile it with the documents uploaded like ID card, passport, documents, etc where the respective Government authority could automatically issue documents to the users upon registration on the app. This also requires more involvement from various Government authorities.
- If the user uploads any documents on this app it should be mandatory to e-sign it. This is way of verifying the authenticity of the documents uploaded.
- Citizens should be educated to use the app with a proper FAQ section which could solve doubts. An online helpdesk could help in solving any queries and provide assistance digitally. Smart chatbots driven by AI technology could guide users through this process with virtual assistance. Users are especially sceptical while dealing with important legal documents and are often times unsure of the next steps in a user journey or whether they are doing the right thing or not. Getting virtually guided by a humanlike chatbot could help the users in developing a sense of security and trust with the app. Having voice input could help the users with limited literacy level or reading-writing skills to interact better with the app.
- 69% of the respondents felt that maintaining their documents on DigiLocker is not secure. DigiLocker uses a 256-bit key to encrypt and decrypt data or files. If the security system is communicated effectively to the users, it might develop more trust.
- In order to have a better user experience, the app could have defined document types and categorisation. These fixed document types could have fixed metadata and archival history. Each user could have a digital library and be able to trace where the documents are getting shared. This could be accompanied with the option of editing or deleting history.
- Since each user is getting 1 GB data to store their documents in the cloud storage there could be a compression software to compress documents over 1 MB. This could let users upload more documents without storage restrictions.
- Strong identity verification is necessary for this app. Using Biometric technology for facial recognition and liveness detection to login and access government issued documents supported by AI and ML, could one of the ways to verify. This is because it is not easy to login using the registered phone and Aadhar number if number has changed. 74% believe that biometric data is the future of security for identity verification. Eg. Passbase (identity verification solution) enables liveness detection authentication through a video selfie format, backed by government ID verification.
- The app could influence AI and machine learning, to assess whether a certain ID is authentic or fraudulent. Platforms will be able to detect the type of document submitted by the customer, match the photograph on the document with the user’s live image and sometimes even detect document holograms through the phone’s camera.
Some of these changes or expectations we saw in this article are one of the many possibilities which could help to enhance this government application for wider acceptance. Digital connectivity could redefine industries and change the mode of identification from physical to digital.
New ecosystems are likely to emerge in sectors that are suitable for digital transformation as a result of this initiative. Better participation of the citizens and good digital connectivity could revolutionise industries such as farming, healthcare, logistics and retail Eg. Agriculture is one of the biggest occupations in India and farms of the future can make decisions based on data, include digital farming insurance and buying and selling with digital markets, farm advisory and monitoring, etc.
Government and private sectors are moving to high speed connectivity and provide services to Indian consumers online. The future of identification lies in the digital realm. It is crucial to cater to human needs and expectations while designing such products and services in order to have a better user experience and involvement.