By Dick Dekkers, Director of Business Development, Digidentity
As part of its Government Digital Service (GDS) strategy, the UK is aiming to streamline the process of digital identity. With the aim of building on what Gov.UK Verify has already achieved, GDS plans to create a new way for users to sign-on to services from any department, and confirm their identity in the most streamlined, easy-to-use and secure way possible.
Following the deep impact of COVID-19, the UK is eager to continue its push for secure online ID verification, and it is easy to see why – the entire nation has become incredibly digitally reliant.
According to Twilio’s COVID-19 digital engagement report, the UK’s digital transformation efforts have accelerated by more than five years because of the pandemic. The population has adapted quickly. If technology hadn’t already become an extension of everyday life before lockdown, it certainly has now.
The Rise of Digital ID
As we move away from the pandemic, the need for digital processes remains, not only as a result of the heightened awareness and focus on general safety, but also for the convenience, ease of use and speed that technology offers. GDS provides all of that, and shows the UK’s commitment to striving for innovation – aiming to streamline processes wherever possible.
By now we are all aware that one of the biggest lessons the pandemic taught us was that working remotely is just as easy as working from the office – if not, easier. The same goes for ID verification. Before the pandemic, workflows were disjointed. The need to sign documents and verify identities in person would slow processes down significantly – sometimes taking days, weeks or even months to arrange meetings and progress business.
COVID-19 made the world adapt. No longer able to meet in person, e-signatures and digital ID verification had to become the norm and organisations soon realised that the ability to complete these tasks through digital platforms was not only simpler, but it drastically streamlined workflows. Suddenly, staff – who had been spending a significant amount of time trying to get these documents signed in person – could verify identities and sign paperwork in minutes. As a result, they could now put more time and effort into other aspects of their jobs.
Continuing the Push
Although we now appear to be finally recovering from the pandemic, organisations understand the importance of leveraging this increased reliance on technology. ID verification is no different, and initiatives such as GDS are playing an important role in continuing this push for innovation.
With that said, while many businesses are more than happy to onboard digital ID services, there are still those that question the technology. By nature, these platforms are handling highly sensitive information, and some corporations are hesitant to utilise digital ID verification and e-signatures when they know that the manual process of signing in-person is a tried and tested method – albeit significantly slower.
The reality is that digital ID provides a highly secure solution to verification. Information is stored securely and is only shared where required.
In a post-GDPR landscape, the public’s awareness of data privacy has never been higher. However, these platforms also follow a double-blind principle – government providers do not know where the information is coming from, and departments do not know which provider verified the user. Furthermore, all identity providers must meet government and international standards for security and data protection. As with the inherently sensitive nature of the documents being signed and verified, there are a number of strong and rigorous regulations that identity providers must adhere to.
As mentioned above, digital ID significantly speeds up the otherwise slow processes of manual verification. With a simple 4 step registration process, first time verification for any user only takes between 5 and 10 minutes. Any time after that, approving items, signing documents or verifying IDs can be done in a few clicks of a button, or by simply using an app on a mobile phone. The entire process is simple and easy to use.
In comparison to the alternative – where staff would wait weeks or months to have documents confirmed – not only is a significant amount of productive time saved – improving efficiency – but user satisfaction is also greatly enhanced.
As a government backed process, digital ID can be applied to a number of areas within the UK. Gov.UK Verify – the government’s answer to digital ID – can be used to access various applications securely and reliably with ease. Users can leverage a host of government services through the system – including the DVLA, HMRC and HMLR.
The buck doesn’t stop there, either. Once a user is verified, they can take this verification and use it elsewhere – digital ID can be used for mortgage applications and other significant financial transactions that would otherwise take a lot of time and effort to complete.
The Future is Digital
We’ve known this for a long time now, but post-COVID-19 organisations will continue to rely on the solutions and platforms they leveraged during lockdown, all for their own benefit in streamlining their day-to-day tasks. Not only does digital ID do that, but it also makes the signing and verification of these documents more secure, with a complete paper trail necessary for regulation compliance. It gives back countless lost hours to businesses that would otherwise spend weeks waiting to progress documents, and as more organisations begin to understand the importance of digital ID, its use cases will only grow.