Survey: Majority favour online ID verification for government services

A survey of more than 2,000 UK adults has found a clear majority want to be able to verify their identity online in order to access government services conveniently.

Researchers found that 52% of respondents believed the ability to prove who they were online at anytime was the most convenient option when contrasted with checks in person at a post office.

However the popularity of online verification declined when respondents were ranked by age. Almost two-thirds of those aged 18-24 believed online ID verification was the most convenient way for them to prove who they were. Just 49% of respondents aged 45-54 believed online to be most convenient; the figure declined to 40% for those aged 55 and over.

Full-time workers (61%) and full-time students (64%) were most likely to answer that online ID verification was most convenient.

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The research was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Chester-based identity-data intelligence specialist GBG, which has just launched its CitizenSafe system on the government’s GOV.UK Verify portal.

While access to some online government services – such as self-assessment tax returns – previously required log-in details to be requested and sent through the post, or even face-to-face identity checks, the Government Digital Service’s target for Verify is that online ID verification should take around 10 minutes.

Verify gives service users a choice of third-party identity-checking providers to reduce the risk of data-security breaches. Other ID assurance services are offered by providers including Digidentity, Experian, Post Office and Verizon.

Suzy Thomas, head of customer experience at CitizenSafe, said she believed GOV.UK Verify was a world-first that would help to fight the growing problem of online identity theft.

“Gone are the days of queuing with your passport and ID in order to prove who you are,” she said. “You can now simply do everything online, whenever is most convenient.”

According to the GDS, whichever third party verification company service-users choose, subsequent log-ins should take less than one minute after the original verification process.

GOV.UK Verify is currently running in beta form and is due to go fully live next month.

Jim Dunton

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