Challenges on identity checking on data poor countries


Ireland recently published their “eGovernment Strategy 2017-2020” in which it was revealed that the Public Services Card will become compulsory for those applying for a driving license or passport. Arguments have already begun over what has been coined as a National Identity Card by “stealth”.

Verifying identity in this data rich world is challenging, and the ID card debate raged strongly in the UK before being banished in 2011. Ireland’s government claims that the Public Services Cards are not mandatory. However, some people believe that making them essential for those applying for a passport or driving license effectively makes them so.

The lack of a global standard for ID verification is something that needs to be addressed in order to improve cross border interactions as well as make local transactions quicker and more reliable. Being able to prove a person’s identity is necessary to protect economies and businesses against fraud, money laundering and individuals against identity theft. So, there is a strong argument for a recognised national identity card which is accepted within its own country if not globally.

Many identity verification systems currently rely on submission of original documents, which need to be checked and verified, and seems somewhat archaic in this digital age. This costly and time-consuming process could be avoided if a national identity card were to be adopted. Lack of quick and standard verification processes cost businesses too. A recent study by Experian showed that around half of UK customers abandon online transactions due to the length and complicated nature of ID verification.

But despite the apparent positives of having a national ID card scheme, the argument continues that they are intrusive and the widespread sharing of data is unsafe.

Ireland’s Public Services Card may not be the answer to the identity verification problem, and certainly a global standard needs to be discussed to solve the issues of cross border transactions. While the debate continues, it is imperative that businesses remain vigilant; by keeping up to date with the current identity checking methods, and using all the tools available to verify identity beyond all reasonable doubt and protect themselves as well as customers.