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Retirees and Beneficiaries: the new Digital Certificate of Entitlement App is now live

4 February 2021


Note: this article was first published on 27 January 2021 and updated on 4 February 2021.


The Fund is pleased to announce that retirees and beneficiaries now have the option to complete the annual Certificate of Entitlement exercise by providing their annual proof of life in biometric format through a new Digital Certificate of Entitlement (DCE) App. All they need to do is download the DCE app to their mobile device and follow the instructions. This DCE is a new option that the Fund is offering in place of the paper-based Certificate of Entitlement (CE) and it is up to the retiree/beneficiary to decide how they wish to complete their annual CE.

“We hope that this major simplification will be widely used by our retirees and beneficiaries,” stated Rosemarie McClean, Chief Executive of Pension Administration. “This is one of the first deliverables of our new strategy to move the Fund to becoming paperless wherever possible.”

After the successful pilot project conducted last year, a number of UNJSPF and UNICC* staff were dedicated to this paramount project, from the initial concept to the testing. “I want to extend my warmest thanks to all of them,” Rosemarie McClean added.

“The new DCE App is secure and reliable,” added Dino Cataldo Dell’Accio, Chief Information Officer at the UNJSPF.

The main features of the new app are described in the box below, and more information is provided in the DCE Step-by-Step Guide and DCE FAQ.

The enrollment in the Digital CE and issuance of your 2021 Digital CE are possible until 31 December 2021.

Please note that, if you do not complete both the enrolment and the 2021 Digital CE  by 22 June 2021, the Fund will send you the 2021 CE form in hard copy by postal mail (see the questions below for more details).

The Digital CE in 8 questions

What is the Certificate of Entitlement (CE) and why is the Fund launching a digital CE?

Every year the Fund needs to verify the continuing eligibility of retirees and beneficiaries to the benefits they are receiving; this verification is done through the Certificate of Entitlement (CE). Until very recently, it was exclusively a paper-based process that required retirees/beneficiaries to sign and mail the CE form back to Fund – it was very dependent on postal services, which proved quite challenging particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year,  the Fund implemented a new Member Self-Service (MSS) Document Upload functionality that allows for electronic submission of the CE form via the beneficiary’s MSS account. In order to further simplify and speed up the process, the Fund is now launching a mobile app - the Digital Certificate of Entitlement (DCE) App - which can verify and guarantee the identity of retirees/beneficiaries as well as their location via biometrics, storing key elements (non-personal data) of the transactions on an immutable and independently auditable digital ledger (using blockchain technologies). With this app, retirees and beneficiaries now have the option to complete the annual Certificate of Entitlement by providing their ‘proof of life’ in biometric format through the DCE App instead of having to return to the Fund the paper-based CE form or to upload it in MSS.

What should I do if I want to complete my 2021 CE using the Digital Certificate of Entitlement?

First, you should download the Digital Certificate of Entitlement (DCE) App on your mobile device. You can download it from the mobile app stores:

After you download the app, you will need to complete the enrolment process. The app will guide you through the process step by step (screen by screen) in which you will need to take and submit a photo of a valid government-issued photo ID, create your biometric identity and have a video call with one of the UNJSPF call-center representatives to confirm your identity and validate your account. All of this is done through the DCE App.

We want to stress that the video call is required and it is very important that you do call the Fund through the app at the time you have selected for the video call.

The other key point is that the video call is necessary for the enrollment, but further steps to verify your biometric identity are needed for the issuance of your Digital CE. You only need to complete the video appointment once to confirm your identity. Once your identity has been confirmed during the video appointment with the Fund and you have successfully completed your Digital CE App enrolment, you can simply complete the annual Digital CE process inside the app every year without any direct interaction with the Fund.

Upon completion of the video call, you can proceed with the required steps to verify your biometric identity for the issuance of your Digital CE.

Once your DCE App enrolment has been approved via a video call with the Fund, you will be able to issue your 2021 and future Digital Certificate(s) of Entitlement inside the DCE App and provide your annual biometric proof of life inside the app. This annual step only requires you to complete the biometric verification inside the DCE App and should take less than 5 minutes every year.

Please read the Step-by-Step Guide provided here for more detailed DCE guidance and check out the DCE FAQ for answers to all frequently asked DCE related questions here.

Can I still use the paper-based form of the Certificate of Entitlement instead of the app?

Yes. The paper-based form of the Certificate of Entitlement (CE) will still be available for those who do not want to adopt the Digital CE application. No action is required from you if you want to continue receiving the paper-based CE form. In that case, please take note of the new feature allowing for electronic submission of your duly completed, dated, and signed barcoded CE form via your Member Self Service (MSS) account.

What are the devices compatible with the Digital Certificate of Entitlement App?

The Digital Certificate of Entitlement app was designed to function with most mobile devices available in the market, operating with the Apple iOS and Android systems. However, given the advanced features of the app (i.e. facial recognition), and the strict security requirements implemented, some devices based on a relatively older technology will not be compatible with the Digital Certificate of Entitlement App. Please refer to the additional details included in the FAQ and, if needed, contact the UNJSPF Call Center by emailing [email protected] for further support.

What if I have not enrolled in the Digital CE (DCE) App and issued my 2021 Digital CE by 22 June 2021?

In that case, you would have two options: either (i) to submit the paper based version of the 2021 CE form to the Fund, or, (ii) to enroll in the DCE App and submit your Digital 2021 CE via the app, by 31 December 2021.

(i) The Fund will mail the 2021 CE paper form to all retirees and beneficiaries who have not enrolled and issued their 2021 Digital CE in the DCE App by 22 June 2021. Instead of awaiting receipt of the paper version of the CE form, you could access and print the 2021 CE form inside the ‘Documents’ tab of your Member Self Service (MSS) account, provided you are not paid under the two track; the MSS CE form will be mailed out and available inside MSS at the end of June 2021. If you decide not to submit a Digital CE via the DCE app, you must return the paper based 2021 CE either by mail or by submitting it to the Fund electronically inside your MSS, by 31 December 2021.

(ii) However, even after 22 June 2021, you still have the option to enroll and issue your 2021 Digital CE in the DCE App until 31 December 2021. In that case, you do not need to submit the paper-based 2021 CE form to the Fund.

How accurate is the facial recognition system and what alternatives are provided when users cannot be recognized?

The Digital CE App uses an advanced facial recognition algorithm based on “learning” mechanisms that included data related to all ethnic groups. Furthermore, the algorithm improves its accuracy with increase usage. Most of the limitations identified during the pilot testing pertained to cases where the initial biometric data were captured in poor light conditions. In these cases, users are directed to the UNJSPF Call Center for assistance in repeating and completing the process.

How secure is the Digital CE Solution and what are the privacy risks of my biometric data?

The security of the entire Digital CE Solution has been tested and validated by an independent third-party. The biometric data used by the App are captured and stored only locally, on the users’ device. Therefore, users remain under full control of their data, at all times. Given that UNJSPF does not collect, process, store or transmit any biometric data, the risk of hacking is prevented. Furthermore, the Digital CE infrastructure is hosted by the United Nations International Computing Centre and protected by the relevant and applicable privileges and immunities.

I understand that the Digital CE uses the blockchain technology. Is this the same technology used for Bitcoin which is known to be extremely expensive in terms of energy consumption? Is the Digital CE a costly solution to maintain and support?

The Digital CE uses blockchain to create immutable, traceable, and independently auditable records of the transactions.

Blockchain is a technology implemented in wide variety of sectors and activities, and while cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin are some of the most widely known examples, it has been used in a significant number of other applications (i.e., logistics; land registries; supply chain; medical records; etc.).

Contrary to Bitcoin, which is a “public and open” (i.e., “permissionless”) blockchain, which requires a significant amount of energy resources, the Digital CE App is a “private and closed” (i.e., “permissioned”) blockchain. The blockchain supporting the Digital CE does not involve the consumption of significant energy resources and/or extra costs, other than those typically associated with the support of ordinary ICT servers and applications.

More questions? Please see the DCE Step-by-Step Guide and DCE FAQ.

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