Verify vendors demand clarity from government over scheme’s future

‘Government Computing’ reports that identity providers (IDPs) and hubs are weighing up their next moves after it emerged that the future of the programme is under serious question in central government

Posted 11 September 2018 by

Digital Identity vendors say they need to understand what the long-term future of what up until a few days ago was still unquestionably the nation’s preferred way to deliver Digital Identity for British residents, GOV.UK Verify – and they need answers soon.

The report comes from Government Computing Network website, whose editor, David Bicknell, has been contacting UK identity providers (IDPs) and hubs after it emerged last week that the future of the GOV.UK Verify identity assurance scheme is under serious question by the government, with some parts of Whitehall reportedly unwilling to back it any further.

In his round-up of what IDPs were willing to tell him of their concerns, one comment stands out – that of Frank Joshi, MD of Mvine Ltd.

“Arguably the seven IDPs might all feel they were ‘sold a pup’ because the volume of sign-ups hailed by GDS when the scheme was launched to them have simply not materialised. The lion’s share of those who have signed up seems to have gone to the Post Office because it, arguably, has the brand name and visibility which most citizens recognise and feel they can trust,” Joshi is quoted as saying.

“IDPs get paid based on the number of people who create an account selecting their particular identity checking service, but [UK] citizens haven’t been signing up on their droves because they are unaware of the existence of the scheme. This is because Cabinet Office has never put its shoulder behind publicising GOV UK Verify to the masses [and has] only [been] extolling Verify’s virtues in its inter-departmental talks.”

Another, who Bicknell does not name (presumably at the source’s request), adds, “Yes, it has taken much longer than anticipated to reach 2.75 million issued digital identities. Yes, it has not been simple redesigning public services for a digital identity federation… but 21 services are now connected and many more are in the pipeline.

“The first digitally signed mortgage shows the value of common identity verification standards being accepted within the public and private sector. This transaction removes a week – and much of the frustrating paperwork – out of a re-mortgage application process.

“Many more public/private sector transactions will be transformed once government frees up Verify to be adopted in the private sector [and] if the UK is to prosper post Brexit there needs to be a better way for employers to know whether people are allowed to work in the UK.”

Clearly, there is considerable confusion in the market, and the future not just of Verify but the commercial prospects of many of the firms who agreed to help support the government deliver it are at stake.

We can’t give you the answers people like Joshi and the rest of the IDP community need right now. But we can tell you that on November 29th, all the major UK Digital Identity stakeholders and a large cohort of practitioners will be meeting in Westminster at Think Digital Identity for Government 2018 to debate what happens next.

Bicknell has also agreed to chair the event, acting as impartial referee to what may well prove to be a very lively day of discussion and deck-clearing… so if you are serious about putting your voice to what happens next with Verify, go here to secure your place on the day .