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Digital ID: In a virtual world, how to prove that
you are really you?


Preparing for exams used to be about whether or not you had studied. These days, it’s
also about having a strong WiFi connection, making sure your little brother hasn’t
scheduled his virtual violin lesson in the next room, and how you can prove to your
proctors hundreds or even thousands of miles away that you are, in fact, you.

Ethan Jones is earning his master’s degree in construction management from
Australia’s Deakin University, based in Victoria, while he remains at home in Hobart,
Tasmania, nearly 400 miles away. To prove his identity during the COVID-19 lockdowns,
he has had to scan his passport, but the document is old and weathered. He has been
asked to hold his student ID up to the computer screen so that it aligns just so – except
it won’t.

But recently he took part in a pilot program with Deakin to test ID, Mastercard’s digital
identity service, that can verify students taking exams online. The students create a
reusable and shareable digital identity in an app where all the information is controlled
by the users on their devices and minimal data is exchanged. Once established and with
the student’s consent, the app only shares the specific personal information required to
register for an exam on Deakin’s portal.

“It was a lot quicker, a lot faster and a lot less stress,” Jones says. “Everything is
controlled from my phone, and I always have it with me.”