Open Digital Trust Initiative: A Proposal for Financial Institutions to Use an Open Standards Protocol to Verify Identity, Protect Privacy and Build Trust

Published August 27, 2020

In the digital space, people need new solutions to know the identity of who they are dealing with and whether or not they can trust them. A number of initiatives are working on the future of digital identity. Some of them are government-led while others are linked to specific private institutions or proprietary technologies.

Banks and insurers are in a unique position to offer trust verification services built on their long track record of protecting personal information and providing banking privacy. They also have much at stake in how digital identity develops. The future of the customer relationship could be significantly altered in some scenarios, while in others they can build on traditional strengths, leverage their capabilities and monetize services they provide to the data economy. Recent developments have heightened the implications as COVID-19 accelerated digitalization and placed greater emphasis on Digital Identity as a critical underlying building block of the economy. At the same time, large tech firms are rapidly enhancing their capabilities as hubs of health data (in addition to the other areas they dominate).

The Institute of International Finance is collaborating with the OpenID Foundation, member firms, officials and various other entities to support the Open Digital Trust initiative, an interoperable and open source development with the objectives of introducing foundational trust into the global digital economy. It aims to create a vibrant marketplace for Digital Trust services which help individuals and entities to confirm identity and understand and manage risk. Specific workstreams have been mobilized (each with their respective working groups), with the IIF leading on policy development & OpenID leading on technical standards.

  • Technical protocols: This group is developing updated standards by 2021. For more information, please visit or contact Don Thibeau, Executive Director at
  • Policy initiative: will develop policy recommendations, requirements, and guidance for both public and private stakeholders in support the project’s wider objectives. Publishing target Q4’2020.

The Open Digital Trust Policy Initiative will build on guiding principles with focus groups developing the specific details in the following areas:

  1. Individual centricity / purpose: Balance protecting individual rights (control, privacy) with a perspective among all stakeholder interests (individual, societal, corporate). Look across jurisdiction and regional approaches, such as the EU and ASEAN, to balance individual privacy with broader societal interests.
  2. Liability / legal frame: Create a market-based mechanism for addressing liability and legal frameworks of reference.
  3. Interoperability: Explore frameworks across geographies and develop “concordance mapping” across platforms to demonstrate interoperability and common values across different sectors, countries, and models such as self-sovereignty.
  4. Role of governments / public sector / academia

Participation in each of these working groups and their deliberations are open to all, without any cost or obligation.