Conveyancing To Benefit from New Online ID Check Reforms

The government have put in motion plans for an electronic verification system which would remove the need to provide original official documentation to prove identity.

Following last year’s digital identity Call for Evidence, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) have responded confirming the government are proposing to modify existing laws so that “digital identity” can be widely utilised.

In the consultation outcome response it said:

“….we will develop proposals for a legal framework to remove regulatory barriers which prevent the use of secure digital identities and establish safeguards for citizens. We will also develop the next generation of digital identity use in government, and promote a pragmatic approach to international digital identity standards.”

With the eruption of the pandemic it meant that industries and many businesses had to quickly adapt due to unprecedented circumstances by providing online services and changing their culture, strategy and processes. Therefore, widening the use of digital identity has become especially crucial in order to fulfill everyday tasks for the public and businesses alike.

The use of digital checks was found to be beneficial to the property sector too. Currently the checking of ID is a particularly laborious task for all those concerned. As those people who are buying or selling their homes are required to prove their identity numerous times throughout the transaction, which can be to the bank, conveyancer and estate agent, which is very time consuming and costly. The residential conveyancing process would reap the awards of technological changes.

The consultation outcome response said:

“Effective use of digital identities (and digital signatures) would help simplify a lengthy process and enable more – if not all – of what is acknowledged to be one of life’s most stressful experiences to be moved online. The result would be reduced friction, cost and abandoned transactions.”

Stuart Young, Chair of HBSG Digital Identity Working Group comments on the consultancy outcome response from DCMS. He said:

“The response from DCMS was very heartening to read and the recognition and importance of a digital identity, not only in this age of technology, but also the importance within the home buying and selling process. The conveyancing transaction is based on a high level of trust between trusted third parties. The core of the transaction centres on proof of identity and ownership and currently organisations will not trust identity verification carried out by another organisation. Hence consumers have to prove their identity up to 5 times. This is causing a continuing increase in time to complete the transaction with poor consumer experience and ample opportunity for identity and subsequent property and financial fraud.

“The common view is that the introduction of a standards based digital identity assurance process, backed by regulators, should be adopted by the industry and this would lead to significant reduction in the time to complete without adding cost to the process and a reduction in the risk of fraud. The reduction in time to complete is seen as the most pressing issue and the most important deliverable of the introduction of a digital identity trust framework.

“With the DCMS and HMLR working on standards and frameworks, this will only help the industry move towards a more unified standards based approach. This will make it easier and better for the consumer, reducing the number of times they have to prove their identity, reduce delays in the process, and associated costs, and make it more secure for the legal and estate agency sectors.”

In a statement, Cabinet Office Minister Julia Lopez said:

“It is clear that there is a need and an expectation for the government to make it easier for people to use digital identities quickly, safely and securely and we are committed to enabling this. We want to ensure there is transparency for people when they create and use digital identities so that they are always in control of who has access to their data and for what purpose.”

The Call for Evidence had 148 respondents which focused on four key areas where it wanted further information and insight:

    • needs and problems
    • criteria for trust
    • role of government
    • role of private sector

The full Call for Evidence Consultation outcome can be found here.

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