Regulators unite in support of Digital Identity technology

, by

biometric scan image of a woman on a phone screen which is placed on a desk that has a plant, a water bottle and some documents

Summary

You may have heard rumblings about major changes that are starting to be rolled out around the use of digital ID verification tools to create a new standard for proving online identity in the UK. The early changes have been focused on criminal record checking, right to work checks and right to rent checks, but these changes will impact the legal sector as well.

Due to these changes, a collection of the UK's legal regulators (The Regulatory Response Unit) have got together to provide guidance for legal companies on how the use of digital identity verification tools can benefit them and their clients.

The full details of the statement can be read directly here.

What is the RRU and what is the purpose of this joint statement?

The Regulatory Response Unit (RRU) was convened by LawtechUK to bring relevant regulators together into a single, fast response forum, to make it easy for those innovating in the legal sector to access and navigate the rules and move forward with confidence.

In the legal sector, digital identity verification technology has become vital in verifying an individual’s identity for - 

  • Reducing money laundering and compliance risks
  • Client onboarding 

But despite the benefits, there is some reluctance in the legal community to adopt this technology, often stemming from misconceptions around regulation or a lack of awareness around the technical capabilities now available. A recent survey has revealed that 13% of firms are not aware of legislative change that allows digital verification as a method of ID check and 22% are not aware of benefits of digital ID verification.

As a result, the legal services regulators participating in the RRU have issued a joint statement on the matter, to help legal professionals navigate the adoption of digital ID verification technology.

The RRU through this statement has reinforced that they actively encourage the use of digital ID verification tools in legal services.

“This statement should provide assurance that, when used correctly, regulators not only accept, but support the use of such technologies."

Paul Mosson, Executive Director of Member Engagement and Services, Law Society of Scotland

Why adopt digital identity technology and why now?

The joint statement from the RRU makes it clear that there are numerous benefits of using a digital ID provider. These include - 

  • Saving time from your manual processes
  • Improving the security of your process by reducing fraud risk
  • Removing human error
  • Improving the scalability
  • Automating recording of transactions, document and data storage 
  • Enhancing your clients’ experience and their perception of your business

Now is the right time to adopt Digital ID tools in the legal sector as they are already in use as part of day-to-day activities in other sectors, e.g. in banking apps, vaccine passports, and e-passport. Given its prevalence, the use of digital ID checking is fast becoming the expected and standardised way to prove your clients' identity.

Secure, online solutions can greatly reduce the administrative burden on law firms, while ensuring practitioners can continue to meet their legal duties.”

Paul Mosson, Executive Director of Member Engagement and Services, Law Society of Scotland

Digital vs Manual Identity checking process

Are you confused about which approach is best for your organisation? Here’s a comparison of the two processes-

  • Collecting evidence of identity

Manual - Documents collected via unsecured email, post or in-person and stored physically.

Digital - Collected online via secure encrypted portal, stored securely in digital form.

Collect evidence of identity

  • Checking authenticity of identity document

Manual - Identity document is reviewed by eye to confirm name and date of birth. In a recent survey, only 23% of regulated firms claimed they were ‘highly confident’ they could spot a fake document.

Digital - Identity document is verified against numerous online secure sources of data.

Check for fraud risks

  • Identity verification

Manual - The process can take up to two weeks. Compliance and Legal support staff will be required to verify identification through face to face interaction.

Digital - Advanced biometric comparison enables companies to verify and onboard instantly.

Check validity and length of existence

What about AML regulations?

It is widely known that a legal professional cannot outsource their AML responsibility but the RRU has clarified that using digital ID verification tools does not lead to a breach of this responsibility.

When acting under the scope of money laundering regulations, legal professionals must carry out customer due diligence when establishing new business relationships. This can be done more efficiently through digital processes than manual processes, which is why the use of digital ID verification tools for AML is not only permissible but also actively encouraged and supported by the RRU.

What’s happening with digital identity in the UK and what do regulators think?

With the Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework (UKDIATF), the UK Government aims to introduce changes to make it easier and more secure for people to use services that enable them to prove their identity. The framework is part of a project to create a digital ID process that can be used as an alternative to physical ID such as passports or bank statements.

It will sit across industries, impacting right to work, right to rent, criminal record checks, anti money laundering as well as other processes involving identity verification. Identity Service Providers, such as Amiqus, will be certified against the UK digital ID trust standard, allowing them to demonstrate to users that they meet government standards and are adhering to the rules.

Legal service regulators have extended full support to development and adoption of digital ID verification technology, as they believe it will benefit clients and uphold trust in the legal sector.

“This joint statement is testament to the collaborative and practical approach taken by key UK regulators, aligning with a standards based approach to the value, adoption and implementation of digital ID.” 

Callum Murray, Founder/CEO                                                                      Amiqus

Key considerations when procuring new digital identity software

There are various factors to consider when working and integrating with a software supplier, such as return on investment, ability to meet relevant standards, quality, support, price etc. 

Our strategic partner - The Law Society of Scotland, in association with Amiqus has published a guide to IT procurement which can help you choose the best digital identity software based on your business needs and requirements.

What's next and what are Amiqus doing?

Amiqus has been engaging with government teams and sector regulators across the UK over the last two years, and is currently undergoing the accreditation process to become certified against the UK digital ID trust standard. By using an accredited provider to carry out digital identity verification, legal practitioners and businesses can be assured that the processes in place are robust, and protect their business. 

Many of our legal clients have already seen the benefits of using Amiqus for their digital identity verification checks and processes. For example, top Law Firm Thornton  spent up to 10 days completing their client ID and verification process, but after using Amiqus, it took as little as 7 minutes and typically less than 1 working day to complete this process; a proven improvement of 500% - 1000%.

 

To find out how Amiqus can help you carry out digital identity verification and checks, get in touch with our support team at support@amiqus.co today!