Digital transformation is now high on the agenda of governments worldwide.
However, turning vision into reality poses significant challenges.
For stakeholders looking to realise the benefits of new national identity card technologies as the key to digital government and more, Kuwait, with its Civil ID, can provide both inspiration and insight.
That's because, in the space of six years (2012-2018), the country has jumped 22 places in the United Nations e-Government Development Index (EGDI).
And the success of its public authorities in delivering the infrastructure necessary to develop digital public and private services deserves particular attention.
Let's see how Kuwait has made such dramatic progress.
First, a bit of background
Kuwait is a Middle East Gulf state, one of six Gulf Cooperation Council member countries (GCC). It has a population of four million citizens, and these Kuwaitis are predominantly young, urban and forward-thinking.
This profile undoubtedly gives the country an advantage in rapidly adopting and implementing new technologies.
But where does Kuwait's digital identity story begin?
Digital Identity as a key enabler
The push towards digital government in Kuwait began in the early 2000s.
It accelerated in 2009 by introducing the Kuwait civil ID card program for ID and eGovernment services. This move followed a decision by the GCC to launch electronic ID schemes for citizens throughout the region.
In Kuwait, the government gave the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) responsibility for managing the project.
State of Kuwait civil id card: Opening the gate to eServices
The new national eID card was designed to be the primary means for authenticating the digital identities of all Kuwaiti citizens and residents. It, therefore, represented the critical element in simplifying administrative procedures and supporting Kuwait's wide-ranging digital government initiative.
Quite directly, it aimed to revolutionise how citizens and residents access daily services.
Here's how Musaed Al-Asousi, General Manager for PACI, describes the main elements of the project:
"From the beginning of the project, PACI found that it was necessary to develop a platform to create the environment required to enter the era of digital civilian information.
We created two essential pillars:
- First, the new highly secure national ID card follows the general standards of the GCC for security and its ability to store, compute and protect digital information.
- Second, the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is designed to serve the leading sectors in the state, the government and the oil sector, the banking sector, and others."
Now let's look at the card and PKI in more detail…
Kuwait's Civil ID card: focus on the card
The new civil ID card contains a microprocessor that can host large amounts of data. Besides, the computerised card securely stores digital certificates, enabling electronic authentication and digital signatures.
But the card is only part of the story.
At the heart of Kuwait's success as a digital nation is also the Public Key Infrastructure managed by PACI. This network represents a secure highway for data exchange, allowing people, governments and companies to exchange data securely and verify the other party's identity.
Here's where Thales fits in.
Reflecting this bold vision, Kuwait selected Gemalto multi-app eID cards for citizens and foreign residents, embedding dual interface (contact and contactless) smart card technologies. Thales also provided support, training and project management.
All Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis now have smart, civil IDs.
Consider some of the card's key features and benefits:
- The national eID card is compliant with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regulations, which are designed to allow citizens of all GCC countries to travel freely between member states.
- The secure document serves as an ID document in a credit card format and includes overt and covert security features.
- The contact functionality allows cardholders to access eGovernment services and perform transactions securely and straightforwardly.
- Thales contactless technology built into the card increases speed, convenience and security of identity verification at border crossings.
New home delivery services for Civil ID cards
To limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus, PACI announced in early November 2020 that new civil IDs can be delivered at home.
The new home delivery services will cost 2 Kuwaiti dinars.
The home-delivery service stopped in early 2023.
Electronic services for everyone
The law N°. 20 of 2014 on Electronic transactions marked a significant milestone in advancing a national eID framework for eCommerce and eGovernment.
Throughout Kuwait, introducing new digital identity technology has enabled the deployment of innovative electronic services.
Government, banking, oil and other private sector enterprises now offer electronic services using the eID to authenticate identities and sign documents digitally.
Take a look at some examples.
- Using the online service provided by the Ministry of Justice, lawyers can now access the government portal using their national eID and sign and upload lawsuits digitally. This has made the process much more convenient and secure.
- Social security is one of the most essential government services, affecting all segments of society. With the new eID, citizens can access electronic services, using their eID as the primary authentication tool at a unique network of self-service kiosks.
- Kuwait Oil Company has deployed the eID to improve communication with its 3000 employees. Self-service kiosks have been introduced, simplifying the issuance of HR and payroll certificates. Employees can now access the service using their Civil eID to view and print all required documents with complete privacy and security.
- Kuwait Credit Bank has deployed the national eID as the most secure tool to access its online services and apply for governmental loans. The eID card contains the information required to complete the loan application. The card is also the key to authenticate through the bank's web portal. As a result, the applicant no longer needs to visit the bank in person.
- With the Boubyan Bank smartphone application, money transfer has never been more effortless: anyone can transfer or receive money using their national eID. The beneficiary can withdraw the authorised amount of cash directly from an ATM using the eID assigned for this operation. There is no longer any need to visit the branch and wait in line.
Reaping the benefits of partnership
PACI has created the infrastructure needed to provide eID for everyone in Kuwait in just a few years.
Public and private service providers throughout the country have capitalised on this platform by developing various innovative and convenient applications and services.
Thales is proud to have contributed to this project. Kuwait's best practices demonstrate the advantages of adopting a national eID card, most notably as the cornerstone for a digital government platform and the development of smart cities.
The Kuwait authorities have also shown how a reliable national identity card can build confidence in the eGovernment. Millions of Kuwaitis are reaping the benefits of digital government and the positive effects of technology.
Kuwaitis enjoy new standards of simplicity and convenience when interacting with and accessing public bodies and services.
How can we help you get the most out of your eID project?
At Thales, we have built a structured approach and contribution mode to government programs, sharing international experience and industrial know-how and partnering with public authorities in numerous countries.
This approach addresses three main areas:
- Securing the identity of citizens
- Protecting their data
- Promoting an optimal framework of trust for digital exchanges to create the conditions for reliable deployment of online services.
In the same spirit, we collaborate with our customers to analyse and promote best practices in these areas across the planet.