This report examines identification management systems in the humanitarian sector that use distributed ledger technology (DLT). Humanitarian assistance is increasingly managed and delivered remotely via digitized administrative and operational systems that center on “beneficiary management” software to manage the identification of individuals being served.

Specifically, this report analyzes systems that use DLT to perform these functions, offering insight into their potential benefits and risks. It assesses arguments for and against the use of DLT-based systems and digs into the implications, for individuals and institutions, of shifting to a distributed paradigm. It also explores several of the most commonly cited use cases for DLT-based identification systems: cash transfer programming, land registration, health services, and identification provision for refugees, stateless individuals, and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

It then offers a summary and analysis of two case studies in identification management: IFRC-KRCS Blockchain Open Loop Cash Transfer Pilot Project and WFP Building Blocks. It concludes with a discussion of the advantages and risks common to DLT-based identification management systems. As an appendix, we include a partial inventory of relevant systems providers, describing their technologies and services for identification management.

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Revision History

v 1.0 – April 2019