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Digital identification: A key to inclusive growth in Chile

InvestChile - October,27,2022

ClaveÚnica (Unique Key) has more than 14 million active users since its implementation. It can currently be used to carry out more than 1,600 procedures in the public sector. Two-step authentication will be implemented in 2023, preventing malicious use and identity theft.  


“I have no doubt that it has been revolutionary,” Daniel Velásquez states categorically. Since 2013, he has been product manager of Gobierno Digital (Digital Government). It is the area in charge of implementing and administering the ClaveÚnica (Unique Key), an authentication tool administered by the Ministry Secretary General of the Presidency (SEGPRES), which validates the identification data of natural persons. It already has more than 14.4 million active users.  

More than 1,600 public sector procedures currently require a ClaveÚnica, which represents 85% of the total in the National Procedures Registry. Of these, 967 – equivalent to 49% - exclusively use the ClaveÚnica as an authentication mechanism. Among them are the Basic Old Age Pension, the registration of trademarks and patents, and housing rental subsidies.  

In practice, this has meant that people no longer need to access state services in person, which has resulted in fewer queues and reduced waiting times. Additionally, the fact that there is a single password to access most state procedures has facilitated digitization.  

State digital transformation  

Its story dates back to the beginning of the last decade. Inspired by the experience of countries such as Canada, Finland, Singapore and Australia, the Civil Registry Service developed a method in 2010 for people to carry out procedures on its website, which included an identification and registration process. In this way, anyone who went along to Civil Registry offices could request their ClaveÚnica.  

Velásquez points out that previously each public institution had to generate its own mechanisms for users to carry out available digital procedures. This created a range of experiences that discouraged their use, especially among those with a lower level of digital literacy. It subsequently contributed to widening the gap in the use of these services.  

After observing good use of the portal, in 2011 the Modernization Unit, now a division of SEGPRES, generated a model that allowed institutions to integrate their platforms, so that the service would begin to expand transversally.  

From that moment on, they undertook “a long and very persistent task” to make more and more organizations adopt the ClaveÚnica. Velásquez explains that they were faced with a double challenge: on the one hand, to urge citizens to register and activate their account; on the other, to encourage more institutions to join up.  

“Registration was difficult, because it depended on the adoption of the platform by institutions. As their procedures are integrated and made available, it becomes increasingly necessary to have a ClaveÚnica.” He highlights that “it is a complicated game, because at the start we did not have a critical mass to make organizations want to adopt it; they maintained their own authentication mechanisms.”  

A new milestone 

In 2015, the Civil Registry Service began to automatically register people for the ClaveÚnica. If a person went to an office to obtain their identity card or renew their passport, the system automatically registered the data; it was thus only necessary for that person to enter the portal to activate it by creating a password.  

“This change caused the number of users to begin to rise, and served to better promote the service among institutions at a time when we did not have the power to demand they adopt it,” Velásquez states.  

A year later, in 2016, due to an increase in the number of active users with a ClaveÚnica, the Modernization Unit took over the administration of the platform to facilitate the integration of more entities. This left the Civil Registry Service in charge of identification and registration.  

The pandemic effect  

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Chile brought with it confinement and the impossibility of carrying out face-to-face procedures. This incentivized institutions to put their procedures on the internet in mass. And it also meant a volume of users never before seen on the ClaveÚnica platform.  

“The numbers changed brutally,” Velásquez says. In the three years before the arrival of the virus in Chile, a total of 4.9 million users had activated their passwords; in 2020 alone, that figure reached 4.2 million, with another 3.5 million in 2021.  

He states that registering them was not a problem for the platform, because they have used cloud services since 2015. This allowed them to adjust to the demands of the new active users.  

Velásquez also highlights the number of logins during the first two years of the pandemic. In 2020, the number totaled more than 279 million, while in 2021 they achieved a record of more than 654 million.  

The ClaveÚnica was also important for carrying out procedures related to the pandemic, such as those on the MeVacuno (I Get Vaccinated) portal. These were key to the vaccination campaign.  

Chile is considered the Latin American digital hub, and public institutions like InvestChile are taking action to promote digital talent through specialization scholarships. Giants such as Google and Amazon operate in our country, as well as start-ups from the technological ecosystem.  

The future of digital identification in Chile

Velásquez states that for years they have been carrying out constant analyses to find ways to improve the ClaveÚnica service. They have observed international models, new technologies and analyzed user feedback.  

And one of those components is security. From next year, they aim to implement a two-step authentication or verification system, preventing malicious use and identify theft.  

Although he states that it could have been implemented a while ago, the lack of broader powers prevented this development, despite the fact that they had the technical capacities.  

This will be in addition to the measures that already apply, such as the encryption of user data. “Not even we know the passwords and only certain people can access sensitive data,” he states.  

They will also carry out pilot tests of other components to complement the ClaveÚnica under the Digital Identity concept, which includes the Advanced Electronic Signature. This is the ecosystem that they want to promote as Gobierno Digital. Among them are steps to integrate the use of sensitive data and, in the medium term, to identify malicious uses.  

Source: Diario Financiero 

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Topics: Digital Economy- Chilean Economy



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