For many of us, the first time we gained an official identity was with a passport, driver’s licence, or other paper-based document.
Over the last 20 years, paper has evolved to electronic data and paper documents are used less often in the verification process. This change has stemmed from organisations, like Credit Reference Agencies such as Experian, who can validate an identity using trusted data.
This system has served us well, but now it has run its course and is no longer inclusive of today’s needs and expectations. We are now a digital age and, consequently, identity verification must enter it too.
As such, identity has evolved. The rise of digital adoption from society and mobile usage, and the introduction of new authentication regulations have all contributed toward this change. In a data driven, hyper-connected world ‘identity’ has been a focus for many businesses, governments and regulators.
What does an evolved identity look like, and what has it become?
The surge of omni-channel customers and hyper-connectivity has changed the way customers and businesses interact and how products and services are delivered. The pace of change is accelerating all the time and increasing because of rising mobile use – giving online access anytime, anywhere. Organisations create omni-channel journeys which take people on and offline. This can then cause friction when an identity is passed across channels.
The use of cross channel models is set to increase with PSD2 changing payment verification. After implementation organisations will need to obtain an extra layer of verification in order to verify the payment is authentic.
The next five years are likely to bring unprecedented change to the way individuals establish and verify their identity online. Biometric information and social media accounts could become the bedrock of our personal digital identity.
So, how will that change work for the customer and businesses?
We’re in the middle of a period of rapid evolution when it comes to identity verification. We’ve gone from paper to electronic to digital and are quickly moving to biometrics that are poised to facilitate instant, seamless access to all our favourite digital services.
While biometrics will be central to the next developmental phase of digital identities, social media networks could also play a significant role.
An identity should be transferable – and social media has started to create a foundation that enables this. Billions of customers are already signed-up as users of the major social networks and many of them use their log-ins, in varying ways, to identify themselves to other online service providers – such as retailers. This has brought the digital, transferable ID into the everyday.
Next, this concept of a digital, transferable ID will likely be expanded on. A centralised trusted re-usable account will make this concept much more universal in its use which will allow instant access to higher risk, and/or higher value online transactions.
Using a trusted ID in this way can add a layer of confidence to pre-existing accounts. It could also be a way for anti-fraud and identity verification measures to become quickly and easily available to various businesses, including security conscious banks and financial services.
Whichever methods come to dominate the way we will verify our identity, the systems must ensure enhanced usability, improved security, and reduce the reliance on multiple usernames and passwords.
The future of digital IDs: better business and safer customers
As we have explored, identity verification is much more of a digital concept today. But, this latest move hasn’t ironed out the main problem of costly, frustrating processes which people and businesses are faced when it comes to authenticating their identity.
What’s coming next, however, will make online life simpler and more efficient for everyone.
Biometric digital identity: A simple system for all
For the individual, a biometric digital identity means not having to remember endless passwords, or spend time verifying their identity through a secondary route such as a pin reader, or repeatedly entering their details to enable purchases.
For businesses, this simplified system of a digital ID means transactions will be immediate.
Rates of abandonment caused by lengthy processes or forgotten passwords will fall and customer satisfaction will likely rise. (Currently reported to be 85% of customers, and nearly a third [32%] of customers start to abandon slow processes between 1 and 5 seconds into them)
You’ll be relieved of the costs and operational burden of having to administer and maintain in-house password and identification systems.
The future is moving in line with customers. As individuals take more control of their data, their identity profile will naturally form part of this; a single identity that can be used in many places, easily, securely and compliantly.
Download our new whitepaper, the evolution of identity.
 10Weatherhead, R. (2014). Say it quick, say it well – the attention span of a modern internet consumer. The Guardian.