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What Is ID and Verification and Why is it Such an Integral Part of Digital Life?

By David Poole, Head of Growth, MYPINPAD


Identity and verification (ID&V) are two closely linked concepts that play an increasingly critical role in consumers’ day-to-day lives.

Identification systems use a trusted ledger, process or token to identify a person or entity. Verification is answering the question “is this person who they say they are?”

These processes are something we are all familiar with. From boarding a flight to collecting a parcel from the Post Office, identifying ourselves and verifying ourselves has been commonplace for generations.

However, these methods rely on the possession and production of hard copies of various forms of accepted ID, and in the digital economy, face-to-face interactions are becoming less common.

The Digital Economy

Ecommerce has transformed the way we shop, consume and do business. With an estimated 1.61bn online shoppers[1] globally, and £114bn spent via ecommerce in the UK in 2015[2], the last 15 years has seen ecommerce move from fad to trend to becoming well established. And of all the ecommerce platforms available, mobileis the one most consumers are turning to.

Commerceis increasingly moving into the mobile and digital. While this has resulted in an increase in convenience for consumers, it has made the processes of ID&V more complex.

Digital transactions all require ID&V to a greater or lesser extent. Online shopping oftenrequires a password and email address, while financial products, bound by a need to comply with know-your-customer and anti-money laundering legislation,require much greater levels of ID&V.

The problem is that ID&V is more challenging for remote transactions due to a lack of face-to-face interaction.

ID&V in the Digital Age

Remote ID&V is nothing new with plenty of people booking holidays, banking or apply for financial services using a telephone.

These all rely on forms of ID&V such as date of birth, and address. But assuch information is now easily accessible online, they are simply not as secure anymore.

This has meant that businesses and their customers have had to adapt and accept new forms of ID&V in order to engage in secure digital transactions.

The most obvious of this is the password, which comes with its own drawbacks. Having to come up with a secure, eight-character password which includes a capital, a symbol and a number can be a P4in !n the n3ck.

This can lead to the inherent problem with ID&V in the digital age – it can be time consuming and inconvenient. This is why the industry is continually looking for new ways to improve the ID&V experience without it impacting negatively on the user experience. Currently, the hot talking point is biometrics.


Biometrics are, quite simply, using human characteristics for ID&V. There are a variety of different forms being currently trialled.

  • Voice recognition – Voice recognition can verify someone in around 15 seconds, quicker than passwords.[3] Yet questions remain about the accuracy of this method. What if someone is in a crowded room or restaurant? Could the technology cancel out the background noise?
  • Facial recognition – Also known as “selfie” authentication. For this to work, the lighting of the photograph will need to be of sufficient quality which isn’t always guaranteed.
  • Fingerprint recognition –It’s widely used, it’s trusted, it’s easy, but it is not perfect. Fingerprints can be copied by fraudsters using easily obtained chemicals. If a fraudster has your phone and wants access to it, they can.

Where to now?

ID&V is part of our lives and while there might be complaintsabout the inconvenience that obtrusive security plays in digital commerce, it is still an improvement on how things used to be.

The good news is that it is going to become even more suited for the dominant mobile platform. Despite some issues around biometrics, they will become an integral part of ID&V although it is likely that they will be part of a wider, multifactor ID&V process, incorporating factors such as PIN to give further security.

[1]Statistica, 2016

[2]IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index

[3]China News

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