Digital Identity

 In Case Study, Wicked Problem

For the Sandbox Consultation Report, views on Digital Identity were provided by Dave Birch of Hyperion Consulting and Jim Purves from GOV.UK Verify.

A view from Dave Birch, Director of Innovation, Hyperion Consulting

“A generation ago we had the famous cartoon “on the Internet, no one knows you’re dog”. A generation on, not only does no-one know whether you’re dog or not, no one knows whether you’re a fridge or not. What’s more, no one knows whether you’re a fridge pretending to be a dog. Or, more  likely, a bot pretending to be a fridge pretending to be a bot. Whichever way you look at it, things have got worse.

There are real limits to how far we can go with the reinvention of digital financial services (as opposed to the mere  digitisation of financial services, which to a large extent  is all we have achieved so far) unless we can do something about the fundamental

problems of virtual identities and their links with “real” identities. To paraphrase Bill Gates only very slightly, if you know who everyone

is, transactions are easy. Identity is the most fundamental challenge facing the financial sector is facing right now and we need  to bring some vision and leadership to this space to break the log jam and move forward.

I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that in Europe at least the financial services industry is very close to handing over the identity crown jewels to third parties. If banks do not work together to provide an efficient, interoperable identity infrastructure then it will be provided by someone else. Government? Maybe. But more  likely it will be the internet giants that the vast majority of the people use

on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis: Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft. In which case, the banks’ only function will be the heavily-regulated utility provision of basic services via API to those who control the customer relationship.

We as an industry already have most of the infrastructure we need to deliver digital identity, better  customer experience, more security and real privacy. We have mobile phones and SIMs, we have smartphones with trusted hardware, we have biometrics for convenient authentication and we have institutions that already do know-your-customer checks. Let’s start putting it together.”


A view from Jim Purves, Consultant, GOV.UK Verify

GOV.UK Verify enables a UK citizen to verify their Identity to high government standards for access to government services. These standards align with the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group requirements for identity verification. This will enable a citizen to assert their digital to a regulated organisation which can then be consumed as trustworthy. In the Summer 2017 Verify is planning to go into Beta with private sector organisations that have identity assurance needs. In order to enable organisations to test and learn about Verify prior to going into Beta, the Verify Sandbox

Environment was created. The key design principles were as follows:

• The sandbox will be provided by private sector organisations.

• GOV.UK Verify will define the standards which the sandbox providers need  to follow at a technical, operational and governance level.

• Sandbox providers will self-certify against the defined standards and their documents will be available on the listing page.

• Communication to market will be done initially via the GOV.UK Verify blog.

• The sandbox providers can decide their own commercial models in engaging with the market.

• Aggregated analytics and status reporting is made available to GOV.UK Verify.

• All IP must be protected.


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