Buenos Aires to issue blockchain-based digital ID

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is making a major move toward integrating its bureaucracy with blockchain technology. Starting in October, the city’s 15 million residents can access identity documents via a digital wallet, according to an announcement on Sept. 28. 

The first documents to be available on-chain include birth and marriage certificates, along with proof of income and academic verification. The announcement notes that health data and payment management will be integrated in the future, and that a roadmap for rolling out the blockchain-based solution across the country will be defined by the end of 2023.

Behind the project infrastructure is QuarkID, a digital identity protocol built by Web3 firm Extrimian. QuarkID wallets are powered by zkSync Era, an Ethereum scaling protocol using zero-knowledge rollups (ZK-rollups). The technology allows one party to prove to another that a statement is true, without revealing any specific information about the statement itself.

“This is a monumental step towards a safer and more efficient future for government services in Latin America,” said Guillermo Villanueva, CEO of Extrimian.

Data stored within the wallets will be self-sovereign, enabling citizens to manage the delivery of their credentials when interacting with government, businesses, and other individuals. zkSync Era will act as the settlement layer for QuarkID, ensuring that each citizen holds the correct credentials.

The Argentine government and the City of Buenos Aires envision their digital identity framework to be a public good. According to Diego Fernandez, Buenos Aires’ secretary of innovation:

“With this development, Buenos Aires becomes the first city in Latin America, and one of the first in the world, to integrate and promote this new technology and set the standard for how other countries in the region should use blockchain technology for the benefit of their people.”

Argentine officials are investigating a similar initiative in the country, the digital ID project Worldcoin. In August, local authorities disclosed a probe over privacy concerns related to Worldcoin collection, storage and use of customer data. 

Worldcoin is also under scrutiny in Europe and Africa since its global launch in July. Founded by Sam Altman, co-founder of OpenAI, the project collects retinal scans to verify users.

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