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Etive to create digital identity trust scheme for residential property market

The tech company has received funding from Innovate UK to create a digital identity trust scheme, aiming to improve identity verification in the residential property sector

Technology supplier Etive is working to create a digital identity trust scheme for the residential property sector.

The company has received a grant from Innovate UK to create a digital identity solution, allowing buyers and sellers to prove their identity once, instead of having to do so multiple times.

This can then be shared with other parties such as estate agents, mortgage providers and conveyancers, within the digital identity trust scheme framework.

Although this scheme is being created for the housing market, the project is in line with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) plans for creating a trust framework with standards for digital identity that will guide the identity market.

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman said that technology “is transforming the way we live, work and access services, and our work in government to boost the use of digital identity will enable smoother, cheaper and more secure online transactions when buying or selling a home”.

“I look forward to seeing this project help not only house hunters, but also those in the legal, business and public sectors,” he said.

Digital identity has the potential to save the UK economy £750m a year. In September 2020, the government announced the next steps in its plans for digital identity and released its long-awaited response to the 2019 call for evidence seeking views on future policy.

The property sector has already embraced digital identity verification, and it is formally recognised in the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019.

Law Society of England and Wales president David Greene said the society welcomes the efforts to “establish a reliable, secure and universal digital identity for consumers to use when looking to buy or sell a home”.

“This will ease the burden on consumers having to produce information for ID checks with different parties, and could help reduce fraud and reduce delays in the sales process – all beneficial developments for our members. The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in transformational technological change in the conveyancing market, and this represents another important step forward,” he said.

HM Land Registry is also undertaking work in this area, and has recently published a set of draft standards. 

The scheme aims to develop a standard which can allow providers of electronic verification to be accredited. The project is also considering the wider use of identity in other legal and financial services. The aim is to reduce some of the delays in the home buying process, as well as tackle fraud.

In April 2021, the first output of the scheme is expected in form of a draft scheme, supported by a set of operation manuals the industry can adopt.

In November last year, DCMS held a meeting with identity suppliers to discuss the future of the UK’s digital identity market and its plans for the trust framework.

The framework will determine what “good” identity verification looks like, allowing for reuse of digital identities across any schemes that comply with the rules. Those rules will be “outcome based” – unlike the previous approach that the Government Digital Service (GDS) preferred of specifying standards as the basis of any and all schemes that wanted access to online public services.

Within the framework there will be any number of compliant ID schemes, any of which can establish identities and attributes that can be shared with other compliant schemes.

Read more about digital identity

  • The government has announced the next steps in its plans for digital identity across the UK and has finally released its long-awaited response to the 2019 call for evidence seeking views on future policy.
  • The lack of reliable digital ID services in the UK is limiting the country’s digital infrastructure potential, according to a report on digital identity, which also recommends the government to clarify the future of Gov.uk Verify.
  • DCMS has met with suppliers to discuss plans for a trust framework to show ‘what good looks like’ as it ploughs ahead with digital identity plans.

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