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What the London Marathon can teach us about Open Finance and Digital Identity

This Sunday 21st April, the 44th London Marathon takes place. With a world record of more than half a million hopefuls that have applied, it has become ever important for participants to share their journey around the city’s landmarks with their friends and family. Of course, just relying on spotting a runner’s face or individual number on their chest amongst this many people would be difficult, so how do the organisers solve this problem?

The answer, of course, is technology.

techUK member and marathon sponsor, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have developed the London Marathon App ‘Way Finder’.

This is enabled through the timing chip worn by each runner, registered within their number, logging each time they pass over the several timing mats around the course and their all important finishing time.

But registering the chip isn’t useful unless it can be connected to an individual through their number. When this data is overlayed with their name and position on the route, supporters can track their loved-one’s progress – which is very useful!

This is similar to the challenge with Open Finance and Open Data schemes more broadly; lots of data sources that aren’t very useful unless they can be connected to an individual.

So how can financial institutions address this? Digital Identity.

Whilst digital ID might not have the razzle dazzle in many people’s eyes compared to AI – no smart data scheme can realistically exist without it. In the financial services industry, digital ID gives institutions the power to verify the identity of its customers and employees.

Like a runner’s ballot registration ties to the data generated from the chip going over a mat, digital identity enables financial institutions to pin data to a verified individual. With ever more data sources available and more, such as Open Finance, currently being developed – this is more important than ever.

So, when you’re watching those nearly 50,000 hardy souls drag themselves around the streets of London on Sunday, let it remind you of Digital ID and the crucial role it plays in our futures.

techUK is in a fairly unique position as being the trade association with a great number of digital ID companies as members. Combined with our policy work on smart data schemes -  we’re the go-to organization in this space, reflected by our seat on the Government’s Smart Data Council. To find out more about Open Finace or smart data, contact our Financial Services programme and subscribe to our newsletters.

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