Blog

Who Needs Identity Verification?

October 2021

Many businesses in different industries will be interested in identity verification solutions, but for large numbers the underlying reason will be out of necessity rather than choice. A lot of industries have regulations in place to safeguard users and businesses alike, requiring the vetting of customers to weed out criminals or other malicious actors.


Some of the most obvious examples can be seen in the financial industry. It’s not just humans and corporations that may need identity verification however: animals, properties, artwork, smart devices and digital assets are all examples of things identity verification can be applied to.

There are a number of reasons as to why identity verification could be considered an asset for a business. Chief among these is security; without being able to identify a user or asset or client there is a real danger that fraud or other illicit behaviour takes place. This could range from something like fake insurance being sold by scammers, to anonymous users leveraging a financial service to finance terrorist activity, and anything in between. Similarly to this, many services and industries are regulated to only be available to a select range of people. Examples of this can be found in the entertainment industry (where alcohol is restricted by age) and the gaming industry (where casinos or betting services etc. also have age requirements). Without identity verification measures, these industries and services wouldn’t be able to operate in any regulated jurisdiction, or if they did would face fines, abuse by criminals or other losses due to fraudulent activity. 

With the increased security, new opportunities come, as with a secure method of remote verification, new services could be offered that extend the reach of industries to places they were previously unavailable. The obvious example of this would be blockchain technology and cryptocurrency bringing banking opportunities to anyone with an internet connection - regardless of geographical location or race or gender or any other metric that might be used to prevent people getting services they should be entitled to. Naturally the identity verification would root out criminals trying to use the system and bar their access but others who previously lacked access to vital services would gain new opportunities. 

Another benefit to using identity verification can, perhaps counterintuitively, be to enhance privacy. This can take place when identity verification is carried out as much as possible by artificial intelligence or other automated means, reducing the human judgement or oversight as much as possible in order to keep customers’ personal data private. Digital methods have a huge benefit over manual ones in terms of speed, efficiency and cost in addition to privacy. Using a previous example: customers could scan into a bar to prove they were over the legal drinking age rather than showing a bouncer or bartender their driving license or passport, thereby keeping the rest of their (in this circumstance irrelevant) data private whilst still satisfying legal requirements. The future of using digital identity verification to enhance privacy is something that is still being improved and expanded, and is something that Blockpass has an active hand in furthering through the Blockpass Identity Lab (BIL). Set up in conjunction with Edinburgh Napier University, the BIL is researching cutting-edge cryptographic measures that will allow people to enjoy such benefits as proving they meet requirements without ever having to reveal their personal information, or enabling data to be used and manipulated without revealing its raw form. This level of identity verification will allow entirely new models to operate in total safety and security and has the potential to enhance and expand existing industries which rely on the proving and sharing of identity data.  

Although not relevant to every business or industry, the right kind of identity verification solution can make user’s experiences vastly more simple and cut out a lot of the pain points in various situations. This comes into play when people have personal or private data they need to share or prove with multiple entities or people, or when an individual has disparate records spread around multiple entities. An example of this can be seen in the healthcare industry where patient records can be held by different hospitals, insurance providers, specialists etc. If a patient’s documentation was assigned to the patient (proved and shared by an identity verification system) rather than a hospital or healthcare specialist or insurance provider etc, then it would be much simpler for the patient to share relevant records and data with new healthcare services or individuals who required them. By making the user the focus, the right identity verification solution can drastically improve the user experience. 

A good identity verification solution also enables the possibility of offering rewards and reputation benefits to customers. If a customer can’t identify themselves and create a lasting profile, the idea of reputation and linked benefits can’t be implemented. In addition, with the customer - rather than a business - in control of their own identity, their reputation can follow them between different service providers and solutions, expanding and strengthening their standing even before they sign up with a new merchant. 

Whilst the financial industry is most often the first regulated industry that springs to mind, identity verification solutions can be revolutionary in a huge number of areas. Some examples can be seen in the following: 

Healthcare

As mentioned above, the healthcare industry is one where the disparate storage of patient records, and the issue of a patient not having easy access to their own records, can cause any number of delays and grievances, and can even hinder the health of the individual if important records aren’t shared with the right people or if they aren’t available in time. Solutions to this are already being researched and tested by the BIL. If a patient’s records were linked to their profile in a secure identity verification system, the patient would be able to share records with any medical professional that needed them in an instant. Such a solution could also have benefits for the patient with the ability to track and share healthcare data over extended periods of time (particularly useful for individuals in remote locations), allow them to monitor their records, and to schedule future appointments. On the other side of the coin, such a solution could also be used by healthcare professionals to reduce the administrative burden placed on them, prove their certification, and reduce the risk of data breaches.  

Travel

Passports are the most obvious identity verification method in the travel industry and their use extends beyond proving your identity at border control; hotels and rental houses and more can ask for passports for proof of identity. Handing over such a valuable document and having a photocopy taken is less than ideal for travelers and a secure identity verification system could be integrated into the travel industry to remove the need for passports to be carried and shown. A digital passport where a scan would privately but securely confirm your identity whilst not revealing personal information would be a great improvement to physical documentation. The potential benefits extend beyond simply proving your identity for travel though, as with a secure and reliable digital identity, smart devices could be programmed to provide access to rental accommodation, car hire, facilities and the like through a simple QR code scan or similar method tied to the identity verification system. This would allow people to control or gain access remotely, preventing the need for representatives to meet up and provide keys or codes or other aspects of rental that prove to be a hassle.

Entertainment 

One industry that hugely benefits from identity verification is the gaming industry, allowing customers to prove their age securely and privately both in-person and online. Beyond this, the reputation of the gaming industry can often suffer unfairly from association with criminal activity such as laundering money, and by having a robust and immutable identity verification system, a business can avoid accusation or suspicion. Perhaps more importantly, in the gaming industry there is a real risk of addiction, and to combat this casinos and gambling apps and online gaming services offer ‘self-exclusion’ services to prevent those at risk from spending more than they can afford or would want to; this requires a solid identity verification system to ensure the customers can be identified and safeguarded.   

Blockpass has developed its identity verification service in response to a need for all of these possibilities and more. Whilst the initial focus has been on enabling fast, simple and secure KYC for onboarding customers in regulated industries, the potential applications of Blockpass were designed from the beginning to work with not only humans and businesses, but devices and objects too. We’re at the start of Blockpass’ journey and we aim to work with as wide a range of people and companies as possible to allow anyone to enjoy the potential benefits of a robust and user-centric identity verification system.

The Blockpass platform is fully automated and hosted in the cloud, with no integration or setup fee. Businesses can sign up to the KYC Connect console in a matter of minutes, test out the service, and start conducting identity documents verification, KYC and AML checks. Sign up for FREE at console.blockpass.org.

-By Matthew Warner