The future of identity verification in business

In this thought piece, John Abbott Chief Business Officer at Yoti — digital identity company — explains what role identity verification will play for UK business in the future.

There’s no doubt about it, is there? The Covid-19 pandemic has brought lasting changes to how companies do business.

Operational issues aside, the pandemic truly accelerated the drive and need for remote digital services. From a personal perspective we saw everything from doctors appointments, workouts, parents evenings, and even virtual house viewings go online, but professional services got fast tracked online too.

For instance, the government adjusted the way Right to Work checks could be conducted – with identity documents provided digitally and checked via video call – a system that became incredibly popular with employers and Right to Rent and DBS screening checks quickly followed suit too.

As businesses started to find their feet, it quickly transpired that other services could also be digitised and fast forward to today, we’re finally seeing great progress in this area.

Using the new legislation for Right to Work as an example, the government now allows checks to be carried out using Identity Document Validation Technology via the services of trusted and secure certified Identity Service Providers (IDSP).

This will enable employers to ensure that new hires have a right to work in the UK quickly and easily online, via a digital ID app (such as the Post Office’s EasyID) or in person at a Post Office branch.

With evidence of increased efficiency, getting people into jobs faster and reduced recruitment times (helpful given new reports which indicate recruitment problems are at record levels as three out of four companies struggle to hire staff, according to the British Chambers of Commerce), these remote policies have streamlined processes for both job seekers and employers.

It has also reduced travel costs (and therefore the environmental impact) for new recruits, enabled a wider pool of applicants to apply for roles and reduced geographic barriers to employment. Individuals can prove their right to work from the comfort of their home or whilst working in a different part of the country.

The benefits of digital identity

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to identity verification, but the benefits of digital identity are clear. The sentiment from businesses is that digital identity offers a more secure, agile and efficient method of identifying people.

Digital identity verification, in its simplest terms, is a way for people to share their personal information online. Instead of having to present physical ID documents such as a passport or driving licence, they can share details, such as their name and date of birth, digitally. This not only offers a more private and secure solution, as there’s no need to scan, photocopy or even send valuable documents in the post, but it also speeds up the identification process and removes geographical boundaries.

What can we expect moving forwards?

For those working in financial services, we will see the acceleration of remote onboarding processes – with no papers or branches needed. The same could apply to gaming websites who will offer customers a smoother and quicker onboarding experience, and pass KYC checks in just minutes.

We’ll also see more online dating websites that use digital identity verification when users create an account; giving other daters confidence about who they are talking to online; helping to reduce the risks of catfishing and dating scams.

In healthcare, a verified digital identity could be used to securely access medical records or book an appointment. And in retail, customers could use a digital identity when signing into their shopping account online or to prove their age when buying age-restricted items at the supermarket without waiting for assistance at the self-checkout.

A fully comprehensive digital identity solution is not just about identity verification though; it’s about the vast scope of things that become possible when lots of people have a digital identity.

John Abbott - Yoti-min

John Abbott

A digital identity can already be linked to e-signatures (such as the services being used by estate agency Connells as part of their sales and lettings processes), so businesses can be confident they know the person behind the signature – creating greater trust between businesses and individuals.

Whilst legislation might be a key driver for digital identity adoption, it’s not the only reason more businesses and consumers are looking at this technology. There’s a growing desire from businesses for better experiences for their customers and this technology can fast track processes that historically have taken up significant time and effort. Individuals themselves have ever-increasing needs for convenience and privacy and thankfully, digital identity ticks both of these boxes.

These solutions are not years away – they have already arrived and businesses will do well to consider how they could benefit from digital identity. No-one can risk falling behind these days – or give an edge to a competitor.