Proving identity for refugees and asylum seekers is a common challenge. Many arrive in a new home with little or no traditional ID cards or documents. This proof of identity may never have existed or it may have been destroyed, lost, stolen or bartered during their ordeal. Unfortunately ID documents are typically the key to establishing a bank account, and in turn the bank account is a requirement to obtain employment, housing and other services. A new company called Taqanu intends to help undocumented people get a bank account and re-establish identity for refugees.
The mobile app tracks elements of the person’s digital life and social networks to establish and refine trust in their identity
Instead of asking for standard identification, Taqanu uses the individual’s smartphone and social networks to build trust, explains the Fast Company article. The mobile app tracks elements of the person’s digital life and social networks to establish and refine trust in their identity. By having friends and family vouch that they are who they claim to be, additional certainty is gained. As the app and the banking services are used over time, it continues to collect more evidence and the identity grows stronger.
Taqanu means ‘to be safe’ in the ancient Middle Eastern language of Akkadian. The plan is for the app developer to partner with a bank to offer a limited banking account and debit card. To avoid money laundering and fraudulent use, the dollar volumes and frequency of use, for example, may be restricted. As the assurance of identity increases, however, additional services could be granted.
This summer, the company will present its ideas before the G20 summit in Germany, stressing that the promise extends far beyond basic banking. It could serve to re-establish identity – something with impacts extending to fair housing, employment outside the underground economy and more.