Next up: you ready for ‘reusable’ Digital Identity?

Partners say they’ve proven portable Identity can improve customer onboarding journeys and reduce compliance costs for financial institutions

Posted 3 June 2020 by Gary Flood

This morning, three vendors claim they’ve made a major breakthrough in the UK Digital Identity ecosystem: the creation of a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) approved “portable” or reusable ID ecosystem.

Specifically, the trio claim that Portable Identity enables people to “safely and securely re-use their verified identity across financial services and other organisations, so that they don’t need to be re-verified every time they want to access new services”.

‘British Money’ by Bryan Jones on Flickr

That’s because end-users have control over their Identity from their smartphone, being able to provision its reuse across any service they want to access. Such a system means businesses no longer have to choose between security and customer experience, can reduce compliance costs, and are able to respond quickly to changing regulation.

How the new ecosystem is claimed to work:

  • Credential providers are able to verify any relevant information about an individual or organisation and issue digitally verifiable credentials to that person
  • People hold multiple digital credentials on their phone and accept or reject requests to share information with institutions (we call these Relying Parties).
  • Relying Parties request information from the consumer and receive digital credentials.

Big claims, maybe – but then, one of the companies behind the announcement is Big Four consultancy Deloitte. (The other two are London-based Onfido, which uses AI-based technology assesses whether a user’s government-issued ID is genuine or fraudulent then compares it against their facial biometrics, and Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) specialist Everynm.

The context here is the FCA ‘sandbox’ pilot that was all about businesses to test innovative propositions in the market with real consumers, work that began in February 2019 to to evaluate how reusable or ‘portable’ Identity can improve customer onboarding journeys and reduce compliance costs for financial institutions.

In creating the ecosystem, the firms gained input from across the financial services industry, as well as the FCA, they claim, while saying they also kept Whitehall “informed of its progress”.

“The solution brings the digital world something that already exists in the physical world: A way for individuals to hold and control a proof of identity that they can show to anyone, anywhere,” state the partners.

“Unlike a physical passport which is accepted at every airport; the digital world is different. Individuals have a unique credential (often, a username and password) for every online service they access to prove that they are who they say they are.

“With the average person managing over 191 pairs of user names and passwords, this quickly becomes unmanageable and insecure, putting a burden on organisations to verify their customers’ identities and ensure that their data is secure,” they add.

Commenting on its participation, for Deloitte Partner Derek Ryan, “Our work alongside Evernym, Onfido and other industry participants has demonstrated the practical applications and business relevance of portable Digital Identity within the FCA regulatory sandbox.

“We believe that the emergence of a portable Digital Identity provides a unique opportunity to build an open and scalable ecosystem which can help improve customer experience and protection, solve an institution’s onboarding challenges, and also create new and scalable business models.”

Next steps: The parties are now keen to develop a production ready solution to launch in the UK market, and say “all parties welcome conversations from across the public and private sectors to help bring this model to market”.

To find out how your company can get involved, email pid@onfido.com.