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How does technology ease the identification of digital nomads?

by | Identity Verification, Technology

Millions of people around the world use the concept of digital nomads. This lifestyle, adopted by citizens who combine remote work with discovering new countries, has experienced unprecedented growth in the last few years. Despite the difficulty in identifying how many are due to logistical issues, their impact on the global economy is increasingly recognised.

The lack of legal requirements to report countries of origin about their stays abroad, coupled with the absence of mandatory registration in host countries, makes the collection of reliable statistics hard.

Nevertheless, several surveys and research have provided valuable information about this trend. Reports such as the Pumble research study indicate that 35 million people are currently digital nomads. The same study suggests that in the last year, most of them visited Spain, Thailand and the United States. Another investigation by MBO Partners points out that the pandemic acted as a driver of this trend.

Technology has been a key factor in the rise and consolidation of this lifestyle. The seamless integration of digital tools has allowed people to work remotely, overcoming geographical barriers. But in contrast to the widespread perception of freedom and the idyllic picture of this way of life, there are complex problems related to identity verification.

Difficulties faced by digital nomads in identity verification processes

Difficulties related to specific use cases

Digital nomads face a number of specific difficulties in various use cases due to the nature of their nomadic lifestyle.

Some of the most difficult moments are related to passing through airport controls without a traditional visa, checking into hotels, renting a house, activating a new local SIM card and insuring a rental car.

In addition to these use cases, opening bank accounts and dealing with health insurance procedures become noteworthy obstacles due to the lack of local identity documents and proof of address. 

The lack of a regular address makes it difficult to present documentation that is often required for the identification of digital nomads. This situation provokes delays, stress and additional difficulties in their day-to-day lives, underlining the urgent need for agile and adapted solutions.

Difficulties related to identity documents

Constant mobility also presents a number of challenges related to personal information: 

  • Validity of documents: many identity documents have expiration dates, which can lead to difficulties in renewing them in time while the nomad is away from their home country.
  • Proof of address: digital nomads lacking a regular address face obstacles in providing traditional evidence of residence, such as bills or tenancy agreements.
  • Inconsistencies in information due to changes of location: constant changes of places can lead to inconsistent information during identity verification processes, possibly leading to delays or rejections in processing.
  • Lack of credibility: due to the unconventional nature of their lifestyle, digital nomads may face scepticism or doubt from institutions when proving their identity.

Difficulties related to obtaining a nomadic visa

This sociological profile also deals with the need to visit in-person embassies or consulates to submit visa applications or fill in application forms in some countries such as Mexico.

The need to present physical documentation to some governmental bodies is also a major disadvantage. It involves ensuring the authenticity of documents and submitting a sworn translation into the local language, and often facing problems related to the loss or damage of documents during the process.

Identification methods used by companies to identify digital nomads

Digital nomads are at a crossroads when dealing with companies and regulations that vary widely in each of the countries they visit. 

Onboarding processes customisation

Some companies have transformed their customer onboarding processes towards digital onboarding processes to make life easier for these people. This strategy involves the digitisation of records and the creation of platforms accessible from anywhere. Simplified forms and procedures allow the identification of digital nomads, giving these mobile workers the ability to access services quickly. 

Biometrics integration

The inclusion of biometric technologies has gained ground in remote digital nomad identification strategies. The use of facial recognition or voice biometrics has enabled efficient authentication, as facial features and voice are intrinsic to each nomad and do not affect their changing reality. These biometric identification methods have become a standard to guarantee the veracity of the user’s identity.

Remote verification protocol implementation

Companies have implemented systems that allow digital nomads to verify their identity from anywhere with the simple use of an online or offline mobile device.

Strategies to improve the identity verification experience for digital nomads

  • Expanding the list of supported identification documents: companies can improve the identification experience for digital nomads by increasing the range of accepted IDs. In doing so, they make it easier for digital nomads, who often do not have local ID cards, to verify their identity without limitation. The inclusion of passports is a good measure. 
  • Translating verification processes into more languages: offering multilingual support to simplify the verification process and overcome language barriers is another key strategy. The inclusion of more languages makes it easier for visitors with different linguistic backgrounds to complete the verification process accurately. This adaptation reflects a consideration for user diversity and an improvement in the overall experience.
  • Simpler local language instructions in high-digital processes: where translation into multiple languages is not feasible, having clear instructions in the local language can be critical to improving the customer experience. These instructions can be presented in written format with understandable language, as well as through videos or illustrative images that visually guide users through the flow.

The passport as a universal identity document

The passport is one of the key documents in the identity verification of digital nomads, as it is an internationally recognised document that certifies a person’s identity and nationality. It is especially relevant in the context of this nomadic lifestyle, as it provides a more universal and accepted identification of digital nomads in a variety of scenarios.

It is a TD3 document, standardised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), that contains biometric data of the holder, such as photo and fingerprints, and is highly secure.

This document, being internationally recognised, offers a level of standardisation and authentication that simplifies the identification processes of digital nomads in international environments. Its use helps to mitigate the difficulties faced by nomads in providing proof of identity in different parts of the world, thus contributing to a smoother verification experience.

How to verify the identity of digital nomads in a digital onboarding process with a passport?

Digital onboarding with a passport involves the use of the passport as an instrument to confirm the authenticity and identity of the user in a digital registration process.

This method generally captures the relevant passport information using OCR or NFC. The technology captures the passport information using devices such as mobile phones or a PC-to-mobile redirection QR (to avoid poor quality processes when using a computer webcam).

Once the passport image is captured, anti-fraud control measures are applied to ensure the authenticity of the document. It is done by performing validation checks, verifying the appearance and confirming that the document has not been tampered with or forged. In some cases, the solution may require a selfie or photo of the user to verify the match between the individual and the document. It is achieved through facial recognition technology that is able to compare the passport image with the image taken in real-time by the user. Once the match between the user and the document is confirmed, the identity verification process is authorised.

Reach us if you would like to implement a digital onboarding process that verifies the identity of digital nomads with passports.

Download Mobbscan's Dossier for Digital Onboarding

  • AML / KYC compliant.
  • Improves user experience.
  • Reduces abandonment rate during registration.
  • Automates user verification.
  • Prevents document and identity fraud.

Download Mobbscan Dossier for Digital Onboarding