Introduction: This assumes everything is normal and we wouldn’t have to implement this during a pandemic. I wrote this a while back when I was working for a government client who could actually have implemented the social engineering part of this. Later on I worked for another government client that gave me the experience to do the payment part. This is therefore a recommendation based on my experiences from what I have actually seen and know for a fact.
Ok so let’s start: by some miracle I become President of the Republic of the Philippines. Given how our government is this is the only level able to do this effectively. Here’s my super simplified 3 step process on how I would implement the National ID.
- First I will develop a government backed payment system similar to GCash and PayMaya.
- Second, I would encourage jeepney drivers, tricycle drivers, bus drivers, market vendors, etc. to use an app to collect payment from passengers and customers. In return they get a % increase in earnings, a tax break or a credit of some sort as incentive.
- Third and here’s what will make this work = In order to send and receive payments everyone has to REGISTER. The usual hindrance is missing documents but that’s no problem for me I am the government. Along with your registration the PSA as needed will give you a copy of your birth certificate and the Post Office will give you a Postal ID. Upon registration you will now be added to the National Database.
I think this will work because of the following reasons:
- First, you tie it to a valuable service in this case being micro payments and its close cousin cash remittance popularly known as cash padala. These are features inherent in bayadcenter, gcash and paymaya. Go out in any busy street in the Philippines and the store with the most number of people are Palawan, LBC, Western Union, Cebuana. etc.
- Second you use the budget allocated to this system to incentivize its use – a feature gcash and paymaya cannot compete with. Tax incentives, cheaper load, discounts on food, medicine and any merchandise or goods the government has access to or can purchase in batches for a discount.
- Third, You shoot many birds with one stone. Now that you have people’s money you can promote savings and banking. People can now have a virtual bank account with the same benefits as government banks such as earning interest but with little or no maintaining balance and can be used to buy essentials without cashing out or even applying for a loan against. 4Ps beneficiaries can also use this to receive cash and sure not all of them have smart phones but plenty do.
- Fourth keep away from Microsoft, IBM or any potential enterprise legacy supplier that will make the system proprietary to their technology tying the government to their systems forever. Always prefer open systems and community powered open source so that years after you are gone the systems behind it remain relevant. Just look at what’s happening with US banks still relying on Cobol.
- Finally Gcash, PayMaya and BayadCenter will try to sue the government’s pants off to stop or delay this. The solution is to partner with them. The government needs limited access to their databases so they can qualify applications to the national database in return for a piece of the pie.
- All this of course runs alongside the traditional methods of collecting census information ie. door to door and barangay to barangay and physical surveys. Census is still a vital part of the process. My recommendation works to complement efforts as it incentivizes the public to register themselves as opposed to the government reaching out to them.
- The solution is a mix or technoloy, social engineering, banking and finance and even social welfare so this doesn’t fall into any particular department’s expertise. In fact the people that I think can make this work are those that think like multi level marketers, but instead of personal gain they are making sure everyone is receiving their share PLUS MORE. Payers get what they paid for AND MORE. Payees get paid AND MORE. Partners get their share AND MORE. As long as in the end the government gets its database.
- Ultimately it is not appropriate for the government to maintain the commercial aspects of this facility especially since its only goal is to populate the database. So there should be an exit plan that will privatize and break the system apart to several corporate takers. This way they can compete with each other to get the most members while policing each other as well. Of course the government still maintains total data ownership.
I had always been against a National ID because you can’t trust our leaders to use it properly. In the wrong hands it would be easy to destroy a person’s reputation should any politician feel like it.
But over time it’s obvious the benefits outweigh the risk. Authoritarian governments will always find ways to abuse the citizenry anyway. It is not fair to delay an innovation that can really help just because we’re worried what harm it can do. If that were the case we’d never have cars because we’re worried about having accidents. Or we’d never have telephones because we’re worried about it ringing and waking us up when we sleep. It’s become too important.