Sweden sees 5bn ID transactions a year. Why is the UK so far off this number?

Did we over-concentrate on government ID first? wonder panellists at last week’s Think Digital Identity For Government 2018

Posted 5 December 2018 by Gary Flood

Getting Digital ID right is not easy: yet some countries, especially in the Nordics, seem to have already cracked this one. So what’s holding us back…. could it be that the UK looked to government to solve this one for us, and have left the private sector out?

The possibly controversial theme was raised at a fascinating look at Identity in an international context at the UK’s only conference that looks at the question of Digital ID from a public sector perspective.

The panel discussion took place at last week’s very busy Think Digital Identity For Government 2018 conference in Westminster, where three senior Digital ID industry figures answered questions from the event’s moderator, Government Computing editor David Bicknell.

These were Keith Uber, Vice President, Customer Success at Ubisecure, Colin Wallis, Executive Director at the Kantara Initiative, and Ian Imeson, Senior Identity Architect at Signicat.

And for the latter, “ID is hard and takes a long time and a lot of processes to get right, but there is clearly optimism we can do that in the UK as successfully as it’s happened in Finland.”

Pointing out that Sweden already sees 5bn Digital ID related transactions a year, that sentiment was only echoed by Uber, who added that, “Lessons could and should have been learnt from other geographies on how to get ID moving, and the ones that seem to work seem to centre on use of individual’s banking IDs first. The fastest way to get Digital ID to a critical mass in this country is to do the same.”

Imeson agreed, but then pointed out that Finland is already worrying that doing that “has given banks a monopoly in Digital ID already”, however.

But the issue may also be the way we ‘market’ ID, cautioned Wallis, who bemoaned the sector’s love of jargon and ‘attributes’ talk: “Outside of this room, ordinary people just don’t ‘get’ this – and that’s something we need to do work on first.”

Indeed, Wallis may have the best answer of all to getting ID accepted in this country to the same level it is in the Nordics:

“If we show that using this stuff will make your life easier – people will just do it, full stop.”