14 Nov 2023
by Richard Thompson

Empowering the vulnerable: how digital ID can help those in the most vulnerable positions

Guest blog from Richard Thompson, Consulting Manager, Digital Identity at Sopra Steria.

Digital ID has the potential to help refugees, victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, and it's important we look to help those in the most vulnerable positions. If we don't take action to implement digital ID, millions of people in vulnerable positions could be denied access to the services they need. 

The refugee crisis, modern slavery and human trafficking affects millions of people around the world. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are currently over 25.9 million refugees worldwide. Many of those in these vulnerable situations lack the necessary identification and documentation to access the services they need to survive, so it’s essential that we find ways to help them. 

How can digital ID help? 

Digital ID can help capture identity information about vulnerable refugees, and victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, allowing them easier and quicker access to the essential support services that they may need. 

Rather than going through an application cycle which can take weeks, a digital ID can be created by state welfare organisations to capture all their information quickly and securely during a needs assessment. Once done, and their eligibility for support services confirmed, a digital wallet can carry their digital ID and credentials allowing them to prove that they are eligible for support services such as housing, mental health support and more.  

This can be especially helpful for those who are fleeing their homes and may not have access to the necessary documents or information needed to apply for services, and don’t have the time or resources to wait for traditional forms of identification. Digital ID can provide the verification that they may need to reduce the risks associated with being undocumented or misidentified. 

Empowering those in vulnerable positions 

For those fleeing different situations, access to essential services like healthcare, education and financial assistance can be a significant challenge. Digital ID can facilitate access to services with ease to improve their quality of life and integration into their new communities. 

Digital ID can be used to capture vulnerabilities in a number of ways including: 

  • Identification and verification- digital ID provides a reliable way to verify an individual's identity. This is essential in various situations where vulnerabilities can be prevalent, such as refugee camps and disaster-stricken areas. With digital ID, it becomes easier to identify and authenticate individuals, ensuring that they receive the correct support and services.  
  • Protection from exploitation- for victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, digital ID can help to protect people’s rights and safety. By securely recording their identity and information, it becomes easier for law enforcement agencies to assist victims and reduce further exploitation. 
  • Aid distribution- in humanitarian efforts, digital ID can play a crucial role in ensuring aid is distributed efficiently and reaches the intended recipients. By using digital ID organisations can reduce the risk of fraud, corruption and aid diversion, making sure that the right people receive their support. 
  • Supply chain transparency- companies can use digital ID to trace and verify the identities of workers within their supply chains. This helps in preventing the exploitation of labour and provides transparency, ensuring fair working conditions, and protecting the rights of vulnerable workers. 

While digital ID offers immense potential, it also raises concerns related to privacy and data security. It is essential to implement robust data protection measures and ensure that digital ID systems are designed with the best interest of those in vulnerable positions in mind. 

Transforming lives 

The use of digital ID in these situations can have a transformative impact across our society and economy. By providing people with access to the right services, it can help those most in need. Furthermore, as these individuals become settled through the support services that they are legitimately entitled to, with a verifiable digital ID they can also have access to employment and financial services enabling them to establish themselves as economic contributors earning salaries, spending in the economy and paying taxes. 

With careful implementation and a focus on privacy and security, digital ID can be a driving force in empowering and safeguarding the most vulnerable people.  

Sopra Steria has built a proof-of-concept solution to show how refugees and victims of human trafficking could be identified at a border, have their needs assessed and a digital wallet created giving access to appropriate services and supporting information relevant to their assessed needs. To see how digital ID can turn a refugee’s life around contact [email protected]  


Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson

Consulting manager, Digital Identity, Sopra Steria