Should Government regulation shape future ID technology?

Widespread adoption and use of technology to help verify an individual’s identity online could help consumers and the digital businesses that serve them, but can regulation be the driving force to ensure security, usability, and access for all?

Yes, says George, The Fraud Prevention Guru

Online identity verification in the UK is already of an extremely high standard. In fact, it’s a world-leader…

…in the field, helping us to record low levels of digital fraud.

In large part, this is the result of constructive and forward-thinking regulations governing the practice – and to ensure the widespread take-up and use of online verification, regulation must continue to lead the way.

We only have to look at a few key characteristics of the current systems already in place in the UK to understand how regulation is a force for good.

Current systems exist to check customer identities and help providers comply with ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) and ‘Anti-Money Laundering’ (AML) regulations.

In these areas, guidance would not be sufficient to improve overall standards and to offer the public the peace of mind it requires, as there would be no specific requirements for providers to meet.

The fact that such tight regulation exists allows technology companies and service providers to easily benchmark and understand what level of provision constitutes best practice.

Once these two elements are established, then the general level of service across a number of customer-facing sectors is driven up as businesses compete with each other on the quality of their customer service.

The combined effect of regulatory demands – and the fact that regulations generally improve standards across the board – means the consumer is then protected from known online risks.

And what sort of protections are filtered down into verification software because of good quality regulations?

No, says Penny, The Identity Verification Master

When developing an online identity verification system organisations need to go beyond simply looking to comply with regulations.

Often, regulations are formulated in response to events. With digital technology developing quickly and customer behaviour changing rapidly as new ways of communicating online become commonplace, regulations are unlikely to foster innovation and drive up standards. Therefore, it comes down to the provider to establish best practice protocols and drive the development of industry-wide levels of consistent service and commonalities.

For all the good intentions with which ID verification rules can be formulated, organisations can often become bogged down. They can end up developing technologies that fail to think big, instead serving to meet their compliance targets, rather than to dazzle and amaze the consumer.

Instead of setting a high expectation that helps foster innovation and spread good practice, regulations can sometimes be limiting. Less ambitious organisations start to see them as the standard to be met, rather than surpassed, and innovation is overlooked in favour of an administrative straightjacket.

If this is the mind-set, how do you think that is reflected once the customer becomes involved? Are they presented with a user-friendly, useful and informative service that meets all their need and answers all their questions? Or is it more likely, that to simply be compliant there’s a certain amount of box-ticking to be done?

How welcoming and enlivening is that?

The final point to mention is the variability of the customers. No two customers are alike. An innovative verification system should be intuitive and versatile enough to cater for many different needs and expectations.

If you’re designing a system to meet regulations, then quite naturally it will try to become a one-size fits all service point – but when does this ever really satisfy the requirement of the entire customer base?

Innovators should think big, innovations should be customer-centric, not simply to satisfy a law that is already becoming out of date.