Zürich, 26 January 2022 – If you have ever opened an account at an online bank or activated a prepaid SIM card, you will be familiar with the procedure involved: to verify your identity, you must use a computer or a smartphone to start a video chat with an employee who then checks your identification document and, most importantly, compares the biometric photograph with your actual appearance. Video Ident, an innovation on the POSTIDENT verification service offered by Deutsche Post, spares you the trip to the post office branch – but does not solve all the problems companies encounter. In particular, the availability times, which are restricted to staff working hours, are no longer fit for purpose in an era of 24/7 online shopping. The future belongs to an automated process that can be used at any time, is entirely reliable and cheaper to boot: it’s time to talk about identity proofing or ID proofing.
ID proofing brings identity verification technology to the next level. All it requires is the customer’s identity card, the actual customer and an Internet-enabled device equipped with a camera – such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet. During the ID check, the customer’s facial biometrics are compared with their identification document, requiring no human intervention.
Demand across all industries
In many sectors of the economy, the ability to compare biometric identification documents with the person presenting them in a legally compliant manner is the prerequisite for conducting a transaction. This applies to banks and other financial institutions, which are obliged to establish with certainty and document the identity of their customers in order to prevent tax evasion and money laundering.
The mobile telephony sector also relies on identity verification. For instance, an amendment to the Telecommunications Act from 2017 obligates all providers in Germany to activate prepaid SIM cards only after the purchaser’s identification documents have been checked. This is intended primarily to prevent criminals or terrorists from purchasing the cards and using them to communicate anonymously.
Gambling is another industry in which identity verification plays a central role. The new State Treaty on Gambling introduced in Germany in 2021 lays the foundation for online casinos to acquire official gambling licenses. At the same time, the casinos must adhere to strict identity verification requirements that focus primarily on preventing persons below the legal age or those who have blocked themselves from gambling offerings from opening a player account.
Previous methods are expensive and prone to error
The one thing that all these sectors have in common is that the previous identity verification processes – whether based on a person’s physical presence or implemented in the form of a video chat – present numerous obstacles.
- Video authentication services– whether in-house or outsourced – tie up human resources to a high degree. Wage costs are just one of the factors to be weighed up in this context. Employee absence due to illness must also be considered as well as the fact that performance can fluctuate due to the highly repetitive nature of the work – leading to longer processing times, careless errors and, ultimately, lower productivity.
- The availability of the POSTIDENT and Video Ident identity checks depends on branch opening hours and staff working hours, respectively. Guaranteeing availability round the clock on Sundays and public holidays is tied to additional and often prohibitive costs.
- What’s more, not all users appreciate having to talk to a human operator when using Video Ident. Even if very few people voice concerns about data protection, many feel uncomfortable about letting a stranger see parts of their own home or simply their tired, unkept or grumpy face. If this kind of check is unavoidable, the new business relationship can start off on a sour note – not the kind of start to which most companies aspire.
ID proofing solves the problem
Automatic ID proofing helps navigate these obstacles.
- First of all, the application is more cost-effective because it eliminates fixed personnel costs. Providers usually offer it as a software-as-a-service cloud solution and only charge for checks actually completed. This means that companies only pay for work actually performed, not for idle time.
- Companies that use ID proofing can guarantee their customers 24/7 availability – including the otherwise problematic Sundays and public holidays. The check is performed instantly, making it much more compatible with the everyday lives of many customers.
- At the same time, ID proofing can help prevent cyberattacks in the area of identity fraud. Employees are far more likely to make mistakes than the algorithms used in the verification process.
- ID proofing requires no user interaction with employees in a video chat and is therefore considered by many to be less stressful and more convenient.
The key to ensuring seamless operation of ID proofing is the automation of all sequences previously carried out by a customer service representative. To verify their identity, the user simply holds their identity card in front of the camera on the device. The document is automatically recognised and filed. ID proofing also detects the security features on identity cards, such as holograms or lenticular printing (“flip images”). The person’s identity is then automatically compared with the identity document with the help of the camera’s selfie function. Powerful biometric facial recognition protects against fraud by detecting attempts to manipulate the system using masks, printouts or screenshots and blocking the verification process.
However, the same factors that impair the work of a human operator, such as harsh backlighting combined with the poor video quality of a webcam, can also have a negative impact on this verification process. Only in these isolated cases is autonomous authentication using ID proofing not possible. Fortunately, a fallback solution – such as POSTIDENT verification – is already available for these situations.
Nevis develops security solutions for the digital world of tomorrow. Its portfolio encompasses passwordless logins, which are intuitive to use and offer optimal protection for user data. Nevis is the market leader for Identity and Access Management in Switzerland and secures over 80 per cent of all online banking transactions. Public authorities, leading service providers, and industrial enterprises worldwide rely on Nevis solutions. The authentication specialist has locations in Switzerland, Germany, and Hungary.
LEWIS Communications GmbH
Ingo Geisler, email@example.com