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Brazil and Argentina turn to blockchain for citizen ID rollouts

Published: September 29, 2023 | Print Friendly and PDF
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Brazil and Argentina turn to blockchain for citizen ID rollouts

As Brazil and Argentina move forward with the implementation of new citizen identity systems, they are developing blockchain-based networks to enhance the security of sensitive data.

Buenos Aires leads with QuarkID

Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires, is leaning into a new blockchain system that promises citizens faster and more reliable access to their most important government documents.

The new service, QuarkID, created in partnership with blockchain digital identity company Extrimian, is set to be released in October. QuarkID will act as a private digital wallet, giving users access to digitally verifiable versions of documents like certificates for birth, marriage, and divorce. Starting in November, citizens will be able to access proof of income and academic attendance certificates as well. The move is being touted as a “first” in Latin America.

For the initial rollout, Buenos Aires citizens will need to complete biometric know-your-customer procedures for identity verification to create a QuarkID wallet. The service then utilizes Matter Labs’ zkSync Era Layer-2 protocol as a settlement layer to ensure each document a person claims in their wallet belongs to them through signed transactions on the blockchain without including personal information. At no point is a document stored in a centralized database or on-chain, which makes data less susceptible to hacks.

The QuarkID platform is based on open-source technology, following international standards, with the aim of allowing other governments to verify future Buenos Aires city documents easily. Additionally, the open-source-based platform can be leveraged by the private sector to build applications that can also benefit from its features.

The complete roadmap for QuarkID, set to be released by year-end, aims to extend the service to over 2.5 million users.

Brazil’s national blockchain ID push

As Brazil moves forward with the implementation of a new national identity card to ensure secure data sharing between the Federal Revenue Service and civil identification entities, the government has also turned to blockchain network development for an additional layer of security.

The network, dubbed b-Cadastros, will support the Federal Revenue Service’s shared registry. It will be used to search, issue and change new ID cards and tax registration numbers. The platform was developed by the Federal Data Processing Service (Serpro), Brazil’s state-owned IT services corporation.

The National Civil Identity Card (ICN) is an upgraded version of Brazil’s existing paper ID cards and began to be issued nationwide in July 2022 to centralize the country’s civil identification system and use the ICN database to authenticate users accessing public services online.

With the blockchain-enabled ID, the Brazilian government expects to centralize processes and reduce fraud and illegal activities, given that currently, a Brazilian can request an identification card in each of the country’s 27 states.

The Brazilian states of Rio de Janeiro, Goiás and Paraná will be the first to implement the blockchain-based version of the National Revenue Service’s shared registry for issuing new ID cards this week. The remaining states are expected to follow within the next six weeks.

Latin America’s growing embrace of blockchain

Blockchain adoption is on the rise in Latin America as citizens in the region are increasingly inclined towards transacting using cryptocurrencies. The trend has been gaining traction since El Salvador became the first nation in the world to adopt Bitcoin as an official form of currency in 2021.

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