Traditional identity models have long been the cornerstone of authentication and identification processes relying on passwords, personal information or PINs. However, these approaches have their limitations, leaving individuals and organisations vulnerable to potential identity theft, fraud, and data breaches.

In today’s increasingly digital world, identity verification is a fundamental aspect of our daily lives, from online banking to buying goods and services. Approximately one in four people in the UK do not have traditional identity documents such as a passport or a driving license, yet according to Statista, 93% of adults in the UK own a smartphone. A proportion of those without traditional identity documents will own a smartphone, which offers a fast and low-cost route to provide a form of digital identity.

Accessing digital services requires a secure and streamlined identity validation process, and as technology evolves, the need for a robust single reusable digital identity becomes even more apparent. By allowing people an easy and secure way to create, manage and share their identity online it will offer streamlined online interactions, enhanced security, and reduce the risk of unauthorised access for users.

Plenty of innovative companies and government departments are ahead of the curve and driving forward the use of digital identity, but others are lagging.

The capture, storage and usage of digital identities

Sopra Steria surveyed 100 technology decision makers to get their opinions on digital identity, and while some organisations showed an appetite for digital identity (33%), many remain reluctant to adopt such innovations (33%) or remain unsure (33%). Sopra Steria followed up by surveying over 1,000 citizens and consumers and the same was observed.

The results showed that, as with any new technology, there is a clear acknowledgment of the challenges involved in digital identity. Organisations need to focus on the benefits, rather than the challenges, otherwise there will be a reluctance to innovation and to moving forwards. If we focus on what’s possible with digital identities, it’s important to consider:

·       Inclusion

No one channel is truly inclusive as not everyone will be able to use digital services. Services of all types must be designed to work for as much of the population as possible, but there also needs to be an analogue backup service provided with equal service levels. 56% of consumers said that their latest identity or criminal record checks were done with a mixture of physical and digital interactions, or completely manual. So, there is scope to digitalise such checks while keeping a manual option for those who can’t access digital services.

·       Choice

The preferences people have will change over time depending on the scenario. It’s important that in any service provision there are multiple formats and channels, and there’s a seamless transition between them.

Sopra Steria’s research found that 80% of people have used online banking in the past 12 months, but only 48% have used online government services, such as the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC, and 23% have used online job finding services.

There seems to be a correlation between frequency of use of services and their consumption through online channels. Respondents are more likely to use their banking app multiple times a week hence driving the high level of usage. Whereas people search for a new job less frequently. As people use banking apps more frequently and see the convenience of them, they’re more likely and willing to go through the initial online service establishment cycle.

·       Education

Governments, organisations and users need to understand the benefits of implementing digital identity. If the people promoting the use of a digital ID truly understand the benefits themselves, it will make educating others that bit easier. Without the required education, you can’t foster trust.

Digital identity adoption is a journey which will happen steadily with the right governance and processes in place to help its success. To deliver the right level of engagement an educational programme must be supported by significant investment in both time and money.

Promoting the benefits of digital identity

In the journey of digital identity adoption, emphasising the benefits of a reusable digital ID is vital in order to gain trust. Where individuals do not see benefits, it will be hard to change people’s perceptions going forward. And when people do see the key benefits they can gain from digital identity, they’re more likely to embrace the technology.

These benefits include:

  • Convenience – with a digital identity, users can access multiple online services seamlessly without having to remember various usernames and passwords. This will streamline online interactions and save time.
  • Improved customer experience – by making the sign up and login process simpler, digital identity solutions lead to higher customer satisfaction rates and a better online experience.
  • Enhanced security- legislation in the UK is set to make digital identities more trustworthy and secure, with organisations needing to gain a Trustmark to show they can handle people’s identity data in a safe and secure way, protecting sensitive information from unauthorised access. This will reduce the risk of identity theft and fraud.
  • Efficient service delivery – by removing some more manual processes, service delivery can be streamlined.
  • Greener paperless process – there will be less printing out of application forms, or photocopying statements and bills; digital IDs will deliver a quick paperless identity verification process.
  • Access to digital services – having a digital identity is a key enabler for accessing a wide range of digital platforms that people may not currently use.

By fostering trust, and highlighting the immense benefits of digital identities, we can pave the way for widespread adoption, and unlock the full potential of this transformative technology.

Explore the survey findings and full whitepaper on bringing digital identity to the citizen and consumer here.