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A tale of transformation: GLEIF’s rebrand speaks to a vital future in organizational identity

In this blog, Ines Gensinger, Head of Global Corporate Communications, GLEIF, looks at how the post-pandemic global economy is anticipated to recover, and reflects on how the LEI - as a universal system of business identity – will play a vital role.

Author: Ines Gensinger

  • Date: 2022-07-19
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As the world rushes to digitize, identity processes now must also become digital to enable legal entities to establish trust without human intervention. This can’t happen soon enough: confidence in digital authenticity is in short supply. Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that the global damage caused by cybercrime could reach $10.5 trillion by 2025, and cyberattacks are just one of many possible threats. The crux of the challenge is that it can be difficult to tell if something is truly authentic when it appears online. As global supply chains become both more prevalent and complex, the need for digitally verifiable trust-building mechanisms grows every day. Global, standardized, and secure digital identities for companies, like the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI), are playing a vital role.

As the world’s economies recover from the pandemic, so too will their GDPs, aided by the accelerated development and adoption of digital technologies and processes. According to the London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research, the global economy will reach $100 trillion in 2022 instead of 2024. But the road to prosperity is long and winding. Businesses everywhere must navigate a host of other challenges, including higher inflationary risk, the global energy crisis, and the as-yet unmet need for a universally recognized and standardized, secure digital identity.

Recognizing this, and that the benefits to the wider business communities grow in line with increasing LEI adoption, GLEIF has evolved and taken on a new strategic direction: to drive LEI adoption by legal entities everywhere, and to encourage broader, voluntary utilization of LEIs beyond use-cases mandated by regulation. And it will do so in a way that enables global identity, protects trust, and promotes transparency in this rapidly digitizing global economy.

While GLEIF’s vision remains constant (‘one global identity behind every business’), the organization is undergoing a transformation in response to this new direction. It is expanding its horizons beyond regulated LEI use and deepening its commitment to helping organizations understand how the LEI can bring greater trust, efficiencies, and transparency to any identity management system in any sector - whether offline or online.

To help it tell the story of how technologies are transforming the way people, businesses, and governments decide who to interact with and trust, GLEIF has undergone its own transformation. In acknowledgment, the foundation has modernized the way it presents itself to the world. As the official guardian of the records and underlying network that enables responsible interactions between legal entities worldwide, GLEIF needed a fresh, clean brand identity, including a new logo and strapline, to reflect the organization’s diversity and universal applicability in both the offline and digital worlds. While the external features of GLEIF’s identity may have changed, the central purpose and heart of its mission remain the same: to create lasting and verifiable trust between legal entities everywhere.

Like many origin tales, GLEIF’s story was born out of adversity. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the world’s regulators agreed that if they were to prevent against a repeat performance, far greater transparency in financial markets was needed. Their lack of visibility had been painfully exposed, particularly relative to legal entities operating in capital markets, which made it almost impossible to assess, let alone manage, economic risk on a global scale. Over subsequent years, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) worked closely with finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 (G20) to develop a universal means of identifying legal entities engaged in financial transactions. It was from this collaborative effort that GLEIF was born; a supra-national, not-for-profit organization charged with regulating and supporting the implementation and use of the LEI. A genuinely universal business identity system backed and overseen by the G20, the FSB, and the Regulatory Oversight Committee (ROC), a group of worldwide public authorities.

From the beginning, the drivers of the LEI initiative have emphasized the need to make the LEI a ‘broad public good’. So far, that ‘good’ has been evident mostly in global financial markets where its use has been widely mandated, successfully creating that much-needed transparency. In the fight against money laundering, terrorism financing, and other forms of financial crime, more than 200 financial regulators worldwide have now mandated the LEI among legal entities engaging in capital markets. Today, over two million legal entities around the world identify themselves internationally using an LEI.

Driving voluntary adoption across sectors

To stimulate voluntary LEI adoption, GLEIF is simultaneously making it easier and more valuable for organizations to obtain an LEI while creating business justification for organizations with the need for validated and verified identity practices to build the LEI into their own onboarding processes. It is doing this, in collaboration with identity industry stakeholders and its network of LEI issuing organizations, by evolving and expanding its existing ecosystem to remove economic and operational barriers to LEI use.

What’s more, as the only open, standardized and regulatory-endorsed legal entity identification system in the world, the LEI’s potential to be a ‘broad public good’ beyond capital markets and regulatory mandates is vast. That potential lies in its ability to empower market participants to benefit from the wealth of information available in the Global LEI Index, the data bank of unique LEI records which GLEIF makes available to everyone, free of charge. This means that any third party - from a curious consumer to a regulatory supervisor - anywhere in the world can cross-reference who an organization claims to be against a legitimate and verified data source.

Enabling use-cases are myriad and varied. Among them, the LEI’s utility to facilitate growth in global trade stands out. Establishing cross-border supply chain partnerships quickly becomes a burdensome and prolonged process due to logistical and linguistic complexities associated with performing due diligence checks on overseas partners. By providing a globally standardized and numerical way to identify legal entities, the LEI mitigates these complexities, thereby streamlining the process so contracts can be signed quickly, orders can be placed and fulfilled, and cross-border trade can flourish.

Enabling digital identity

Another way in which GLEIF is building on and amplifying the value offered by the LEI as an organizational identity management tool to all entities everywhere is by expanding its unique applicability in the digital world. To equip and enable the global economy in this respect, GLEIF is leveraging existing technologies such as digital certificates and a new model of decentralized business identity to enable businesses everywhere to use the Global LEI System to identify themselves and verify the authenticity of counterparty organizations without the need for human intervention. In both instances, ISO standards have been established to enable uniform implementation globally, industry-specific proofs-of-concept are rapidly maturing, and GLEIF’s network of partners, known as LEI issuing organizations, is expanding and diversifying in anticipation of future demand.

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About the author:

Ines Gensinger has been leading global corporate communications at Global Legal Entity Foundation (GLEIF) since 2019. Before joining GLEIF, she was Head of Business and Consumer Communications at Microsoft Germany. In 2006 she kicked off her career at Microsoft Germany as PR Manager Server & Tools.

She is one of the thought leaders in the discussion on digital leadership and the author of "Digital Leadership - Netzwerk schlägt Hierarchie," published in 2017. She has built a strong network of fellow campaigners from business, society, and academia. Ines knows that digital transformation starts with everyone's participation. In digital transformation, the most important investment for her is in people, and the digital leader's role is critical.

Ines Gensinger holds a master's degree in Sociology and German Philology with a focus on Media and Communication Studies from the University of Mannheim.

Tags for this article:
Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF), Digital Identity, LEI Business Case