Digital Identity Group – Digital Identity Trust Framework for homes sales sector, releases project overview

Following on from the hugely success Digital Identity Group meeting in October, the project has released details of its plans to build a Digital Identity Trust Framework for the property sector.

The project overview, which has been pulled together by Stuart Young of Edinburgh-based Etive Technologies, seeks to tackle the longstanding challenge of multiple identity verification touch points in a property transaction; which each party in the process regulated by a different entity with their own identity, Know Your Customer and AML requirements.

Currently a seller’s and buyer’s identity is verified up to 5 times by the different relying parties. Conveyancers, estate agents, mortgage intermediaries and financial services are regulated by different entities with different levels of oversight and compliance creating their own conflicting guidelines on identity verification.

The solution, supported by all the legal and estate agency regulators and representative bodies, is to create a centrally agreed framework, aligned to DCMS policy objectives, against which all processes and providers would be accredited to allow all parties to rely on an identity verified once whilst meeting their customer due diligence obligations:

Digital Identity Trust Framework for conveyancing would rely on a government backed identity standard, GPG45: Identity proofing and verification of an individual (GPG45), and accreditation against that standard for Identity Providers. This would allow all organisations in the conveyancing transaction to trust in the verified identity.

Etive is working alongside the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) which is developing an UK-wide Digital Identity Trust Framework. Good Practice Guide (GPG) 45 sets out “How to prove and verify someone’s identity” is written by Government Digital Service (GDS) with acknowledged help from DWP, DVLA, HMRC, the Post Office and others.

The Government expects each sector to develop its own scheme within the framework to meet its specific requirements.

The property sector has embraced digital identity verification, formally recommended within the 5th Money Laundering Directive. The Law Society’s own guidance, developed by the Legal Sector Affinity Group (LSAG), identifies electronic checks as “a sufficient measure for compliance with money laundering requirements (acknowledging) there may be circumstances where it will not be appropriate”

However, the industry is largely “unregulated” in terms of data quality, security, liability, and service. The LSAG guidance outlines choosing a “reputable electronic verification service provider,” but provides little guidance around what constitutes “reputable”

When choosing an electronic verification service provider, you should look for a provider who:

    • has proof of registration with the Information Commissioner’s Office to store personal data
    • can link an applicant to both current and previous circumstances using a range of positive information sources
    • accesses negative information sources, such as databases on identity fraud and deceased persons
    • accesses a wide range of ‘alert’ data sources
    • has transparent processes enabling you to know what checks are carried out, the results of the checks, and how much certainty they give on the identity of the subject
    • allows you to capture and store the information used to verify an identity.

The Digital Identity Trust Framework seeks to develop a standard against which providers of electronic verification can be accredited.

The project officially started on the 2nd of November and is due to run for 6 months. Etive has set up a number of workshops with legal and estate agency Regulators / Supervisors and representative bodies, as well as working with the financial sectors regulators, to develop the scheme governance, liability, and standards, with a view to have a draft scheme published 1st Q 2021.

If you are interested in being involved or being on the list for output please contact Stuart Young on [email protected] or 07740 075026

You can view the Project Overview in full here.

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