Developing a Digital Identity scheme for the private sector

By Harry Weber-Brown, CEO, TISA Digital

Think how many times you have found yourself searching through every box, shelf, and drawer of your home looking for a once seemingly unimportant, piece of paper, which is now essential for you to complete your tax return or access another critical online service. How many times have you promised yourself that you will keep your medical records, bills and HMRC letters organised, only to find that you can no longer remember where that ‘safe place’ was?

Now, imagine a world where your personal information, from your passport details, driving licence, bank details and household bills, are kept in one, highly secure, online place. No more worries about keeping track of them, no more opportunity to lose them, and far less paper wasted printing them. This reality is now on the horizon with the impending introduction of Digital Identities (Digital ID) that are reusable across different firms.

The main use of a Digital ID is to make it possible for people to prove information about themselves without the need to show a physical document. But there is much more to it than that. It will make opening a bank account, claiming benefits or buying a house simpler, safer and quicker. Digital IDs will have universal compatibility, meaning that people will be able to use it across multiple sectors. From finance, employment and health through to entertainment and travel. What is more, customers have enhanced control of their identity and data. But will it work in practice?

Let’s say that you want to open a bank account. Right now, to do so, you are required to dig out proof of identity, address, and employment. Usually, this means queueing at your local bank branch and presenting documents to verify your identity – a waste of both your and the bank’s time. Of course this wasn’t possible through lock-downs so digital identity verification became even more vital.

With a Digital ID, using such services will be significantly easier, safer, and cheaper. It also puts the consumer in control of their data, with all information needed securely stored in the cloud so you can tap into the documents you need whenever, even for more complicated processes like applying for a mortgage or dealing with insurance claims.

And not only consumers will benefit from the introduction of Digital IDs. With them will come more secure, cost-effective online transactions helping to boost business and the digital economy. Unlike authentication based on physical documents, it is harder to steal a digital identity and it cannot be lost and faking it is becoming harder with robust biometric checks. Digital ID can help to reduce fraud and financial crime, with no need to post physical documents, which can easily be lost, intercepted or falsified.

TISA (The Investing and Saving Alliance) has identified the huge potential of Digital IDs and is working closely with the Government in developing it’s Digital Identity Unit. In a joint research report with TISA and Ernst and Young (EY), it was found that over 90% of consumers surveyed said that they would use dashboards that consolidate the view of pensions, savings, and investments in one place, with the main barriers to adoption being mis-selling and data security issues. Digital ID will be crucial to such schemes and data protection. With COVID-19 catalysing our need to rethink and rework the age-old practices around how we prove who we are, implementing Digital IDs must now be at the core of the UK’s innovation agenda.

At TISA, we are developing a federated Digital ID project – enabling easy access to all digital services by creating a single, reusable, secure ID owned and controlled by the consumer. The vision is to create a single Digital ID that meets all relevant regulatory requirements (KYC and AML) and is positioned to consumers, as the prime means for securely identifying themselves to UK Financial Services. This Digital ID will allow consumers to re-use their verified identity and associated KYC attributes to open and access online financial services.

TISA has now completed the Proof-of-Concept phase of its Digital Identity programme. This included building and implementing a test platform with live connections between financial services (including Fidelity, Moneyhub and Profile Pension) and identity providers (including the Post Office, Yoti, Digidentity and OBid).

Our next phase is the “Live Pilot” where we will connect identity providers to live onboarding processes using a Live Hub and a single API. TISA wishes to run the live test with financial services of all sizes. Do get in touch through our website or with myself directly to have a demo of the service, hear about the research results and discuss the next steps.

Our team work closely with colleagues in the Government Digital Service; DCMS; the FCA and the Open Identity Exchange to align the development of the Government and Financial Services Digital ID schemes and the development of the infrastructure. The project is backed by UK Financial Services and Identity Providers who are collaborating together to work on this project with TISA. Financial services will be able to save considerable expense in verifying customers’ identities, reduce overall AML compliance costs and increase fraud protections.



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