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e-Identity is coming to your life, there is no escape whether you like it or not

David Rennie, Head of Industry Engagement, Identity Assurance Programme, UK Government Digital Service began his talk at the ACT Annual Conference last month saying, “The challenge in any transaction is how do you know the person is, who they say they are, and that you are contracting with the ‘right’ party.” This is particularly true if the transaction is on-line, because on the Internet: “No-one knows if you are a dog or not”. Rennie passionately believes that, “Digital identity is fundamental to trust, if you don’t know who you are trading with, you won’t have confidence in that transaction. Then you’ll be less inclined to do business through that channel.”

The ‘Innovation in Identity’ session revealed key developments that corporate treasury departments need to understand and keep-in-mind when building their processes and systems. The GOV.UK Verify programme in the UK is trying to develop a market for digital identities by:

  • developing a set of eIDAS Regulations ‘Electronic Identification amd Trust Services’, standards and infrastructure that all parties - government, companies, etc. - can use. Also this model is compatible and interoperable with other countries’ initiatives
  • looking at how to re-use the government identities in the private sector by working with the Open Identity Exchange UK (OIX UK) which allows UK Government to work within a set of rules that don’t break any procurement laws, intellectual property laws
  • working with mobile networks  who have set up a service to link digital identities to mobile phones
  • working with pensions sector as to how to aggregate your pensions information - this will require use of digital identities
  • enabling e-Identity accounts to be issued by banks, e.g. Barclays, government departments, e.g. Post Office and other specialist suppliers, e.g. Citizen Safe, secureIdentity, etc. 
  • supporting the setting up of ‘identity shops’ to sell and support e-digital identity, e.g. where consumer can carryout digital transactions safely and securely
  • working with banks and regulators in UK and across Europe on how digital identity can be used in setting up bank accounts
  • developing new standards on digital identity that covers a person who represents an organisation and how you can know whether the person you are interacting with actually has responsibility within the company for the particular transaction.

Banks, corporates and other digital identity initiatives

Barclays presentation revealed deep commitment to the digital identity business both for their customers and as a new business opportunity. Like BofA Merrill, they see digital identity as an important new revenue stream.

James Suddaby, from Identity2020, stressed how vital it is to find a solution the problem of the millions of unregistered children and adults. The development and adoption of digital identity standards is critical in solving this problem.

Key facts and thoughts that emerged during the Q&A included:

  • people will have more than one digital identity, e.g. a health/medical ID, financial ID, family ID and probabaly held by different digital identity processors
  • at moment the regulators, banks and other providers are not automatically have that biometric identification of the digital identity holder associated with the ID
  • Barclays expect digital identity will take at least five years to have critical mass
  • lawyers still need to more confidence before adopting digital identities generally 
  • legal digital identity might become law in by 2020.

CTMfile take: Fascinating session. Two things stood out: 1. UK Government now has (after ID card debacle) a sensible and practical business model which is being copied world-wide, and 2. there is much work to be done on digital identity - 2020 for UK is probably optimistic.

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