UK pilot aims to provide faster access to key digital services

By on 17/08/2020 | Updated on 04/02/2022
The pilot will see up to 11 private sector companies approved to digitally check a person’s passport data to speed up application processes

The UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) has launched a pilot that will enable companies to use its Document Checking Service to verify citizens’ identities and speed up access to important services.

The scheme will run for a year and aims to give people easier and safer access to digital services which require identity checks, such as online mortgage applications, financial services and recruitment onboarding. 

Prior to the pilot, the Document Checking Service had only been available to GOV.UK Verify identity providers. Now, up to 11 private sector companies will be approved to use the service to digitally check a person’s passport data to speed up application processes.

The pilot provides an opportunity to establish how the government and the private sector might work together for the convenience of citizens, according to Cabinet Office parliamentary secretary Julia Lopez. “It will help us learn how we can help citizens and businesses access online services by verifying a person’s identity more safely and easily, unlocking the huge potential of technology to improve our everyday lives,” she said.  

The scheme is designed to deliver significant time savings for people who previously went through in-person processes to verify their identities, and to provide financial savings for organisations who can move their identity proofing processes online. 

As well as gauging market appetite for this type of digital identity checking service, the government hopes the service will also help organisations tackle fraud.

No access to government-held data

Under the pilot, no organisation will be given access to government-held data and an individual must consent to have their data verified. The company checking the ID will simply receive a ‘yes or no’ answer confirming whether the document provided is valid, and no personal data not already provided by the individual would be used or shared, the government said in a statement.

“The UK has a thriving digital economy and we are committed to making it easier for people to prove their identity online without compromising personal information and for businesses to conduct checks in a safe and secure way,” said digital infrastructure minister, Matt Warman. “This pilot is a significant step forward in our work and will help speed up access to financial services and make sure more people can benefit from the huge potential of technology.”

The government hasn’t yet published the full list of selected pilot participants – it said agreements are in the process of being finalised – but confirmed that identity verification software specialist Sedicii Innovations will use the service for the purpose of financial services onboarding.

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