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Tech firms launch digital identity scheme for real estate

Five companies joined the digital identity programme aimed at enabling buyers of real estate, and more providers are expected to join a pilot starting this month

A digital identity scheme for the residential property market has been launched with five technology companies joining the pilot stage.

Created by technology provider Etive following a grant from Innovate UK, the goal of the digital identity scheme MyIdentity is to enable property buyers and sellers to prove their identity once, rather than having to do so multiple times. This is expected to reduce completion times for transactions.

The scheme kicked off with identity service providers Digidentity, Nuggets, OBiD, Thirdfort, and Yoti. The pilot runs from November 2021 to August 2022 and more providers are expected to join the initiative in 2022.

According to Etive, the programme will be trialled in 11 locations, including the London locations of Battersea, Chiswick, Clapham, Putney, Wimbledon, Richmond and Kew. The scheme will also be piloted in Cheltenham, Gloucester, Harrogate and York.

“For the pilot of the trust scheme, we have secured the use of proven hub technology able to seamlessly connect the identity service providers and participants together,” said Stuart Young, managing director at Etive.

Moreover, Young noted the production grade technology is provided by UK service provider Mvine. “[This] means the pilot can focus on solving the needs of the users of the scheme rather than spending time ‘fixing the plumbing’ of the IT,” he added, in reference to the integrator.

As well as property buyers and sellers, the digital identity trust hub can be utilised by other actors of the real estate ecosystem, such as mortgage lenders, conveyancers, solicitors and estate agents.

According to Etive, in addition to quick completion times, the MyIdentity project is expected to enable lighter administration processes, as well as an alternative to mitigate the risk of property and mortgage fraud.

In August 2021, the government published the second iteration of its digital identity and attributes trust framework, setting out how digital identity providers can become certified, making it easier for people to use digital identity services. Organisations can join the trust framework on their own or by joining an existing scheme with multiple organisations which, for example, operate in the same sector.

The MyIdentity scheme is an example of a sector-focused digital identity project. The property sector has already embraced digital identity verification, and it is formally recognised in the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019.

Work on the initiative, which adheres to the government-backed standards, started in 2019. It follows input and consultation with more than 100 actors, including the government itself, as well as regulators and trade bodies from the estate agency, legal, financial services and the digital identity sector.

The project is in line with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s plans to create a trust framework with standards for digital identity that will guide the identity market.

The UK government estimates that digital identity has the potential to save the UK economy £750m a year. Earlier this month, the Government Digital Service launched a search for a technology supplier to develop a new common digital identity check for access to government services.

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