Kiva Protocol implementations were generally approached as public-private partnerships, where Kiva would partner with government agencies in order to design and develop the appropriate infrastructure solution for their goals.
Our focus was on two government projects, first in Sierra Leone, and then in Honduras.
In 2015, only 5 percent of Sierra Leoneans were registered in a national identity registry. With the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) was created and a mass civil registration initiative commenced from March 2017 to June 2017, in which over 5 million Sierra Leoneans were registered. In the year following this mass registration, the Government of Sierra Leone announced a partnership with Kiva, UNDP and United Nations Capital Development Funds to build the National Digital Identity Platform (NDIP) during the 2018 UN General Assembly. The NDIP would enable the central bank of Sierra Leone, along with all commercial and community banks and microfinance institutions in the country, to use the NCRA database as a single source of truth for identity verification.
Kiva partnered with the NCRA and the UNDP to establish the NDIP. An eKYC pilot was officially launched with Marampa Community Bank (an Apex member), and additional testing was done at the BSL, NCRA, International Finance Corporation, Ecobank MFI, and Union Trust Bank.
The eKYC pilot in Sierra Leone brought the process of identity verification and account opening from 4+ hours down to just 5 minutes.
A desktop application was built in order to securely authorize bank employees to perform eKYC checks using a fingerprint scanner and the FSP customer’s 7-digit national identity number. For the larger commercial banks that could afford covering expenses for software integrations between the NDIP and their legacy banking software, an eKYC software development kit (SDK) was developed, which provided embeddable tools for the issuance and verification of credentials. For the smaller community banks and MFIs with little to no budget for software integrations, a standalone version of the software was also made available, which would not auto-populate forms within their pre-existing banking software with the data from the NDIP, but otherwise still contained the same core functionalities.
In September 2018, Kiva signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Sierra Leone, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and UNDP to build and implement modernized identity and credit reporting systems in order to further financial inclusion efforts in Sierra Leone. In 2019, the Directorate of Science, Technology, & Innovation (DSTI) began to engage with Kiva on eKYC. The NDIP was officially launched in August 2019. A Data Protection Agreement (DPA) was signed between Kiva and the NCRA later that year to allow Kiva to create more than 3 million identity wallets on the NDIP, referencing foundational identity credentials maintained by the NCRA. Kiva continued to work with local stakeholders to develop training tools and dashboards. In January 2020, 3.6 million digital identity wallets were issued on the NDIP. In February 2020, a pilot was started with Marampa Community Bank.
Owing to COVID, however, the Kiva team on the ground was forced to evacuate in March 2020. Despite this setback, the teams continued to work on the project between March and September 2020. The DPA was amended to facilitate data transfers between the NCRA, NDIP, and DSTI to accelerate Covid response. Kiva developed an SMS OTP authentication tool as an alternative to biometric authentication, and Train-the-Trainer manuals and reference materials to support remote FSP onboarding. In September 2020, the original MOU agreement expired.
Kiva has operated in Honduras since 2006, facilitating more than US$15M in loans, with 62% of all loans ($9.3M) going to women or women-owned businesses. The objective of Protocol in Honduras was to develop a modern digital infrastructure for financial service providers in Honduras that would enable the verification of citizen identification, and the exchange of information between financial service providers (FSPs) and government agencies in a highly secure and real-time manner. At the FSP level, the platform would increase operational efficiency, reduce fraud, and support a wide range of innovative new services and programs that promote financial inclusion.
Our primary counterparts included the Comisión Nacional de Bancos y Seguros (CNBS), Banco Central de Honduras (BCH), the Registro Nacional de Personas (RNP) and what was formerly known as The Office of Management and Public Innovation (DGIP). Each of these stakeholders had specific interests in being a part of this project. CNBS, as regulator of the financial services sector, was seen as a natural guardian entity and administrator of the entire Protocol platform in the country. RNP, as primary issuer of national IDs, would play a key role in issuing identity credentials on the platform. Banco Central and DGIP were considered key partners given their respective mandates in supporting technological innovations with broader implications for the financial sector, as well as other government services.
Working with Honduran stakeholders under the MOU and beyond, we achieved several outcomes as listed below. 1. A working group composed of key stakeholders met on a regular basis to help align project objectives and develop a shared understanding amongst all stakeholders on the potential of Protocol, how it would be implemented technically, what kind of capacities each of the stakeholders would need to develop, and the overall policy and governance framework underpinning the successful rollout of the solution at scale. Through the working group, the team was able to develop a shared understanding between the different stakeholders. 2. The Kiva technical and product teams worked closely with technical leads from CNBS and RNP to develop, adapt, and deploy necessary hosted services for the eKYC solution, including biometric authentication. 3. In addition, the Kiva team hired a local research firm to support key market research and pre-pilot testing of the eKYC solution. 4. The team created a reference document on the financial histories solution that was shared with all stakeholders to build greater buy-in. To validate key assumptions around the financial histories solution, and in particular on the relevance of remittances data, the team also undertook key market research and tested initial remittances focused user facing materials.
In February 2021, Kiva entered into a nine month MOU with all the stakeholders mentioned above to start building out the national identity platform. Over this period of time, the objective was for Kiva to work closely with CNBS and RNP to understand their technical capacities, develop the eKYC solution, and test out the solution. In parallel, it was anticipated that necessary changes to existing policies and procedures would be supported by CNBS to allow financial service providers to start using the eKYC platform. In addition to the MOU, the team drafted a Data Processing Agreement (DPA) that was to be signed between Kiva, CNBS, and RNP. The DPA would have permitted the Protocol team to test the eKYC solution using real personal public and private data from RNP’s databases.