Insights & Analyses

Jamaica to establish national online identity registry & services with help of Estonia

June 12, 2017

Looking to develop the first fully digitized government system in the Caribbean in 2018, Jamaica is reportedly turning to the leader in government digital identity systems: Estonia.

Citing the Jamaican government information service, Estonian World reported that the island nation hopes it can learn from Estonia, where 90 percent of government services are accessible via the internet.

Jamaica plans to launch its National Identification System in 2018, assigning every citizen a unique identification number and storing the personal identity information of all citizens.

“Every single Jamaican will have an account in the national database in the national civil registry,” Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said. “That account will hold your identity information, and that… will allow you to be verified and authenticated in all the databases that are held across the government.”

Officials from Jamaica are said to have met with Estonian e-Governance Academy Executive Director Arvo Ott earlier this month. While Jamaican officials are reportedly following Estonia’s lead, it was not indicated what further role the Estonian government might play.

Estonia’s embrace of digital services has not only benefitted citizens — it’s also used to attract business to the Baltic state. The Estonian e-Residency program helps entrepreneurs in 137 countries around the world by providing them with a secure, government-issued digital identity that can be used to open a bank account.

e-Residency program helps entrepreneurs in 137 countries around the world. Through the program, people can receive a secure, government-issued digital identity, which then enables them to access their business and open a bank account.

Last month, the efforts were expanded even further, when the government of Estonia partnered with Finnish fintech firm Holvi to provide the ability to open a bank account remotely, without needing to step foot in Estonia. The €35-per-month service allows customers to obtain an EU international bank account number and a Holvi Business Mastercard.