National identity card in Kuwait: The key to digital government


​​​Digital transformation is now high on the agenda of governments worldwide.

However, turning vision into reality poses significant challenges.

For stakeholders looking to realize the benefits of new national identity card technologies as the key to digital government and more, Kuwait can provide both inspiration and insight.

That's because, in the space of just four years (2012-2016), the country has jumped 23 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.

In this article, we'll see how Kuwait has made such dramatic progress. 

First, a bit of background…

Kuwait is a Middle East Gulf state, one of six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It has a population of four million citizens, and these Kuwaitis are predominantly young, urban and forward thinking.

This undoubtedly gives the country an advantage in terms of the rapid adoption and implementation of 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 2000's.

It accelerated in 2009 with the introduction of Kuwait's eID card program for ID and eGovernment services. This 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.

What were the aims?

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 key element in simplifying administrative procedures and supporting Kuwait's wide-ranging digital government initiative.

Quite simply, it aimed to revolutionize the way 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 card to follow the general standards of the GCC for security, and its ability to store, compute and protect digital information.

Second, the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) designed to serve the main 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 National ID card: focus on the card

The new card contains a microprocessor that can host a large amount of data. In addition, it securely stores digital certificates, enabling the use of 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, government and companies to exchange data securely and verify the identity of the other party.

Kuwait's National ID card
 

Here's where Gemalto fits in…

Reflecting this bold vision, Kuwait selected Gemalto's multi-app eID cards for citizens and foreign residents, embedding dual interface (contact and contactless) smart card technologies. Gemalto also provided support, training and project management.

All Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis now have smart card 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 the format of a credit card and includes overt and covert security features.
  • The contact functionality allows cardholders to access eGovernment services and perform transactions in a simple and secure manner.
  • The Gemalto contactless technology built into the card increases speed, convenience and security of identity verification at border crossings.

Electronic services for everyone

The law N°. 20 of 2014 on Electronic transactions marked a major milestone in the advancement of a national eID framework for eCommerce and eGovernment.

Throughout Kuwait, the introduction of new digital identity technology has enabled 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 important government services, affecting all segments of society. With the new eID, any citizen can access electronic services, using their eID as the primary authentication tool at a new 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 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 smart phone application, money transfer has never been easier: anyone can transfer or receive money using their national eID. The beneficiary can withdraw the authorized amount of cash directly from an ATM machine, 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

Reaping the benefits of partnership

In the space of just a few years, PACI has created the infrastructure needed to provide eID for everyone in Kuwait. Public and private service providers throughout the country have been able to capitalize on this platform by developing a variety of innovative and convenient applications and services.

Gemalto is proud to have contributed to this project. Kuwait best practices are demonstrating the advantages of adopting a national eID card, most notably as the cornerstone for both a digital government platform and the development of smart cities.

The Kuwait authorities have also shown how confidence in eGovernment can be built through a strong national identity card. Millions of Kuwaitis are therefore reaping the benefits of digital government, and enjoying new standards of simplicity and convenience when interacting and accessing public bodies and services. 

How can we help you getting the most of your eID project?

At Gemalto, we have built a structured approach and mode of contribution to government programs, sharing international experience, industrial know-how and working as a partner to public authorities in numerous countries.

This approach addresses three main areas:

  • Securing the identity of citizens
  • Protecting their personal data
  • Promoting an optimal framework of trust for digital exchanges in order to create the conditions for a reliable deployment of online services.

In the same spirit, we collaborate with our customers to analyze and promote best practices in these areas across the planet.