A number of countries are creating digital identities for their citizens, in part to improve the delivery of public services. India and Estonia are leading the pack.
Creating a 'coalition of the positive' in India: An interview with Nandan Nilekani
E-government in Estonia
Challenge: After gaining independence from the Soviet Union, in 1991, Estonia, one of the smallest nations in Europe, was left with little public infrastructure and virtually no commercial activity. It needed to build high-functioning government services for its residents and the fledgling private sector.
Emerging solution: Estonia's government doubled down on technology, investing aggressively in efforts to bring services and citizens online. In 2003, it launched the first version of its e-government portal (www.eesti.ee), which offered secure online access to a handful of government services. Today, Estonia's 1.3 million residents can use electronic ID cards to vote, pay taxes, and access more than 160 services online, from unemployment benefits to property registration. Private-sector entities, such as banks and telecommunications companies, also offer services through the state portal—and thus have an incentive to invest in maintaining the infrastructure backbone. More than 90 percent of the country's people now have electronic ID cards, and every day approximately 10,000 users visit the portal.
Government services and beyond
About the Authors
Eric Braverman is a principal in McKinsey's Washington, DC, office; Mary Kuntz is an external contributing editor for McKinsey.
Elana Berkowitz and Blaise Warren are consultants in McKinsey's Washington, DC, office.