The evolution of identity: trust, inclusivity, biometrics and beyond

Over the last 20 years identity has gone through a lot of change. Paper processes have evolved to electronic data, and consequently, paper documents are used less often in the verification process people have to go through when interacting with regulation and authority. This change has stemmed from organisations like credit reference agencies such as Experian, who can validate an identity using trusted data – digitally, faster, and smarter.

This system has served us well, but now it has run its course, and is no longer inclusive of today’s needs and expectations. We are now a fully digital age and, consequently, identity verification must enter it too.

>See also: In the modern era biometrics should replace passwords

Identity is on the cusp of a great change. And many in the enterprise are not yet sure how to manage the new technologies promising to revolutionise the process for them and their customers.

Establishing trust

The next phase of development will see individuals establish a single, highly trusted digital identity with a provider such as Experian that can be used again and again for instant logs-in and transactions with apps and websites.

However, to do this people must have the confidence to share their data. Customer perception is that banks are generally very secure, in comparison to other industries such as insurers or utility providers.

This puts established providers at a distinct advantage – however provides an opportunity for other industries to develop and adopt the principles that banks have enabled for decades.

Organisations that succeed will be those that can gain the confidence and trust of their customers, encouraging them to share their data in return for better value services that are not only secure but easy for them to consume.

>See also: Biometrics time attendance: benefits for your business

When you look at the depths of trust and perception of fraud, many people assume it to be the responsibility of the business to protect them. As such, it is imperative any organisation who offers any form of process that requires a transfer of data or capture of personal information, must act responsibly. This shouldn’t mean hindering innovation or new concepts of identity verification, but should do with caution and with the customer at the forefront of any development.

Organisations are already moving toward customer focussed teams enhancing and creating processes and this will continue moving forward. Equally, working together and linking data from across organisations can enhance this even more.

One identity used everywhere with confidence will be the norm, fairly soon.

Identity inclusivity

The evolution of identity has excluded some people because of the reliance on electronic data.

Some organisations are starting to make headway within an inclusive strategy for identity verification through the introduction of new technology such as document scanning. While this is a positive measure, there is still more to be done. With online usage being the main driver behind developments within identity checking, it is dominating processes and innovations.

With both the United Nations and World Bank committed to providing digital IDs to every person on the planet by 2030, it is paving the way for future developments. Clearly it’s a very ambitious 15-year undertaking – but possible given the proliferation of mobile devices during the past 15 years.

>See also: Biometric banking gaining popularity with UK customer

But, many segments of society are still dependent on traditional means of identity validation and are likely to be for the foreseeable future. Therefore, virtual authentication means organisations may exclude far too many people. In fact, it’s fair to say even missing one person, is one too many.

In our debate people outlined how the future may see a forced change of direction. A few years ago you could book a budget airfare by phone. Now, with some airlines, it is online only. But, in this business model the organisation can choose who its customers are.

When we look at a verification strategy for necessary access – it opens a whole new level of consideration and becomes a national strategy, rather than a choice over demographic customer groups.

What is certain is that organisations need to consider inclusivity at every touch point. Who will a new direction affect, and how can they accommodate those people? This may be a case of moving people in one direction through education, but however it is done, it requires a united move.

Inclusiveness is critical and it’s vital to ensure everyone is catered for equally. The most important thing is businesses start to consider what inclusivity looks like and puts the customer at the heart of any development.

>See also: Bolstering contact centre security with voice biometrics

When asked, the public said by a narrow 57% to 43% that online identity be truly inclusive for all.

Identity providers need to find ways to get as many people as possible online, even if that means using paper proofs to establish a Digital Identity. In Europe this is the standard way of operation.

Beyond biometrics…

We’re in the middle of a period of rapid evolution. We’ve gone from paper to electronic to digital and are quickly moving to biometrics that will facilitate instant, seamless access to all our favourite digital services.

While biometrics will be central to the next developmental phase of digital identities, social media networks could also play a significant role.

Billions of customers are already signed-up as users of the major social networks and many of them use their log-in, in varying ways, to identify themselves to other online service providers. The concept of re-using an identity created in one place, in another place is well established.

>See also: Biometric technologies and their security

What is needed is trusted re-usable accounts, to open up instant access to higher risk, and/or higher value online transactions.

Adding a layer of trust to pre-existing accounts could be one way for robust anti-fraud and identity verification measures to become quickly and easily available to many.

Whichever methods come to dominate the way we will verify our identity, the systems must ensure enhanced usability, improved security, and reduce the reliance on multiple usernames and passwords.


Sourced from Nick Mothershaw, director of Identity and Fraud at Experian

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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