Plans for home-moving Digital Identities takes significant leap forward

Ministers want to hear your views before forging ahead with system that will remove need for paper identity documents such as passports, banks statements and driver's licences.

Digital identities that would enable home buyers to navigate the home moving process more easily have taken a step forward following the launch of a government consultation on the project.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is hoping that once launched, having a digital identity on your smartphone or laptop will be as recognised as a driver’s licence, bank statement or passport as proof of identity.

DCMS reckons that a digital identity will help people to easily and quickly prove their identity when buying a home by eliminating the time and expense required to process paper documents. It is also likely to have applications for the private rental market too.

It is also hoped that such as a system would also drastically reduce fraud in the housing market – as The Neg has reported many times in the past, it remains astoundingly easy for criminals to forge key documents and dupe agents, conveyancers and lenders.

Governing body

matt warman

The government has now launched a consultation on the proposals which include a governing body, a proposals that was first mooted earlier this year and will require companies handling digital identities to stick to the highest standards of security and privacy.

The body – which could be housed within an existing regulator – would have powers to issue an easily recognised trust mark to digital identity firms which certifies that people’s data will be handled in a safe and consistent way.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman (pictured, above) says: “The plans laid out today will ensure people can trust the app in their pocket as much as their passport when proving their identity.”

He also says digital identity use will not be mandatory and people will retain the option to use available paper documentation.

Industry reaction

julie dawson“We very much welcome the Minister’s words and look forward to these legislative changes. Knowing who we are really dealing with online or in person, is hard in today’s world,” says Julie Dawson, Director of Regulatory and Policy at Yoti.

“The parity of accepting a digital form of ID or a physical one is a great step forward and one we have long advocated.

There are over 1m driving licenses lost and stolen in the UK each year, over 400, 000 passports, leaving people at greater risk of identity theft and fraud.  Enabling people to prove their age or identity digitally offers convenience and trust for both individuals and businesses and can help our economy to build back better.

“Remote right to work checks during Covid have enabled over half a million people to get into work. We hope that this flexibility for the citizen and employer is here to stay.”

stuart young logbookStuart Young (pictured), MD of Etive, says: “I believe the DCMS’s work on getting a digital identity to be more widely used and accepted is a great move.

“Government support for a trust mark for identity providers will help to ensure that those who use them are able to work under the knowledge and confidence that they can trust and rely on them to do identity verification to a set of Government backed standards. The digital identity trust scheme for the home buying and selling sector is working closely with the DCMS to help shape the standards for home sellers and buyers alike’.

Movers & shakersMark Hayward, Propertymark’s policy chief says: “The UK Government is introducing more digital identification checks in multiple environments. In the property sector, this is already evident through the share code system for Right to Rent checks and it would be positive if boosting the legal status of digital identities helps to speed up the house buying and selling process.

“It is important that the UK Government recognise how the proposals will interact with different sectors, government departments and agencies as well as the existing checks that property professionals already carry out, including to combat money laundering.”

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