Digital CE App
Photo: UNJSPF

UNJSPF and UNICC Present Digital Certificate of Entitlement at UN Innovation Network Webinar

​On Thursday 15 April, the UN Innovation Network (UNIN) hosted a webinar as part of its Blockchain Learning series on the Digital Certificate of Entitlement solution, developed by UNICC and the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF) for the Pension Fund’s beneficiaries around the globe.

The webinar began with a presentation by Dino Cataldo Dell’Accio, CIO, UNJSPF, who detailed the broader objectives of the Digital Certificate of Entitlement solution, revolutionizing the Pension Fund’s 70-year-old manual processes. 

With a pool of nearly 80,000 beneficiaries, UNJSPF annually holds the responsibility of ensuring the proper delivery of all 80,000 pensions. A tedious, antiquated and risk-prone procedure was in need of updates. Objectives for this solution included process automation, reliability, privacy, security and scalability.

Shashank Rai, CTO, UNICC then described the technical functionalities that serve UNJSPF’s objectives. He noted the application’s ability to confirm biometric Identity of every beneficiary, addressing the Pension Fund’s need to prove facial recognition, proof of existence and physical location. 

We need to congratulate UNICC for its flexibility in navigating the challenges of implementing the application in the middle of the pandemic. The blockchain technology applied in this Digital Certificate of Entitlement brings about endless possibilities to automate other aspects of the pension distribution process and beyond.

Dino Cataldo Dell’Accio, CIO, UNJSPF

Another aspect of the Digital CE solution that Shashank described was the immutability of the process of identity verification, whereby all private, biometric data for beneficiaries is hosted on individual mobile devices onto which the app is downloaded. Because of various obstacles around data privacy and security in the process of verification, the respective hosting of a beneficiary’s data, named a “blockchain wallet,” is “a way to bring back the ownership of one’s data into their own hands.”

The webinar also featured a Q&A session during which many representatives attending from organizations such as UNDP and WFP inquired about numerous aspects of the solution, such as the application’s development process, particularly over the course of the pandemic. Despite the its hampering of plans to properly present the solution throughout the UN ecosystem, UNICC developers and involved stakeholders were able to successfully roll out the Digital Certificate to 250 test beneficiaries in WFP and FAO. 

 UNIN’s feature of the Digital Certificate of Entitlement solution serves as a testament to the UNICC and UNJSPF commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, and Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals. The partnership extends form UNICC and UNJSPF to working with the UNIN to share innovative digital business solutions.

The UNIN is an informal, collaborative community of UN innovators interested in sharing their expertise and experience with others to promote and advance innovation within the UN System. The UNIN is open to innovators from all UN Agencies as well as external partners and to date, 3,000 colleagues from 65+ UN Entities in over 140 countries have joined the Network.

Photo: Libunao

UNJSPF Blockchain Delivers Digital Identity to its Beneficiaries

UNJSPF and UNICC partner with Hyperledger to improve and secure pension processes worldwide

The United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF) has taken the leap into emerging technologies to help them to streamline service delivery to their clients, the retired UN staff around the globe.

Spearheaded by Dino Cataldo Dell’Accio, CIO, UNJSPF, this is one part of the Fund’s journey towards digital transformation, leveraging innovative technologies to update manual processes and streamline systems efficiencies.

The Pension Fund’s Certificate of Entitlement (CE) certifies that retiree beneficiaries are who they say they are, are still living, and still reside at their registered locations. This has always been a cumbersome and manual processes that has been prone to error if not fraud.

UNICC together with the Fund and the effective partnership of Hyperledger, an open source blockchain technology firm, has created a solution to automate and make immutable the CE process with blockchain, biometrics and a mobile app.

The project team created and completed a Proof of Concept prototype that demonstrated that technology could be applied to overcome existing issues with the CE without introducing any major risks that hamper the flow of entitlements.

The pilot project was a success and was approved at the Annual UNJSPF Board Meeting in August 2019. The Fund has decided to take next steps towards implementation across the organization.

The World Food Programme will be piloting this solution with their pensioners as a first step to a full rollout, attesting to the incredible cost savings and streamlining of processes with these innovative technology solutions.

Photo: UNICC

Blockchain, Biometrics and Mobile Apps for Pensioners

UNJSPF provides retirement, death, disability and related benefits for staff upon cessation of their services with the United Nations. Benefits and pensions are based on the cost of living in the local country of residence. On an annual basis, the Fund has to determine that every beneficiary everywhere is still alive (proof of liveness) and that the beneficiary is still living at the address she or he has established.

At the time that a participant initiates separation for the UN Agency, the person creates a digital identity by using a mobile app backed by blockchain technology. The person has to take a picture that is submitted to the Fund for validation and approval, setting the basis for an immutable biometric face recognition identity.

Once approved, the participant can request a digital Certificate of Entitlement to use for all UNJSPF business processes. Prior to usage, the participant beneficiary has to prove liveliness by taking a new photo. This entire processes is recorded in an immutable blockchain distributed ledger so no changes can be made.

If positive, the biometric footprint is updated, avoiding the issue of a beneficiary using a pre-existing static photograph. This ensures that the beneficiary is who he or she says and releases the pension for the beneficiary.

Current beneficiaries in the Philippines. Photo: UNICC