Identity verification Q&A: Mark Opland, Onfido

Mark Opland, VP of design at Onfido, looks at his 2023 predictions for the identity verification industry.

Posted 3 January 2023 by Christine Horton

What is missing from today’s digital identity/biometric-focused user experience that could arrive in 2023? 

One area of opportunity is ensuring that identity services are accessible and equitable to the widest possible segment of the population. This will require focused attention on accessibility and algorithmic fairness.

Digital products and services greatly benefit people with digital access needs, allowing them to shop, communicate, learn, and participate in society in ways that might otherwise be difficult or unavailable. Where they exclude users, these services create barriers that can exclude people from full social and economic participation.

Making our products and services accessible is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes sound business sense. By some estimates, failure to build accessible products risks alienating up to 18.7% of our Total Addressable Market (TAM). UK businesses lose £17.1 billion a year in spending that goes elsewhere because of inaccessible digital experiences. 49% of disabled people feel excluded from society, and we can play a meaningful role in providing access to products and services.

What technology will prove to be most impactful in shaping the digital identity experience in 2023?

The pandemic has triggered a radical shift in digital customer interactions globally. This will have an impact in three distinct areas:

  1. Multi-factor identity sources: Many different sources of information such as phone numbers, browsing records, behavioural patterns, device IDs and more used to validate real identity.
  2. Government issued Digital Identity: Governments that have been slower to gain traction and acceptance of government-issued (or approved) digital identities, but we’ll see more movement in this space in 2023.
  3. Self-Sovereign Identities: There will be a paradigm shift away from central identity providers and towards truly user-owned Digital Identities. The digital self becomes independent, placing much more control in the hands of individuals.

What is the biggest threat to the digital identity experience in 2023?
Digital identity is in its nascent phase, and we’ll see a massive proliferation of different technologies and approaches. For end-users, this could mean having to learn a number of new concepts, technologies and paradigms, many of which are quite different from their current mental models for identity.

Similar to the challenges faced with Crypto, we may see a future where we have many digital identities issued by a variety of sources all stored in different places and accessed in different ways. Until we see dominant technology providers and usage patterns emerge, the landscape could be quite messy and confusing for users to navigate.

In which use cases will businesses most leverage biometrics next year? Are there certain sectors likely to increase their adoption and why?
It might be easier to ask which use cases won’t access biometrics next year. We’re already seeing identity play a central role in preventing bots and misinformation on major social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. We’ll also see biometrics enable more frictionless and secure access to physical locations such as offices, airports and stadiums.

In the recent World Cup, many fans had trouble gaining entry into stadiums because their digital ticketing systems failed. This process could be facilitated by pre-verifying users and enabling biometrics as the key to gain entry.

Mark Opland, VP of design at Onfido

As fraud becomes increasingly sophisticated in 2023, how should users expect the identity verification experience to change or evolve?
Fighting fraud is a constant cat-and-mouse game with bad actors always looking for new vulnerabilities and weaknesses to exploit. We’re already seeing sophisticated methods such as deepfakes and synthetic identity theft become more commonplace, which, in turn, require advanced methods for detecting these attacks and protecting end users from them.

The identity verification experience will seek to strike a balance between a low friction end user experience and a high assurance against fraud. Onfido’s Motion product is an example of this. Hundreds of hours of user research, design and machine learning development informed the final product, which protects users with a simple and intuitive user experience.