Would centralised digital identification benefit conveyancing?

In November 2020, HM Land Registry unveiled a new set of guidelines regarding the verification of digital identification for those using conveyancing services.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, more people than ever before are using conveyancing without having direct face-to-face meetings with providers.

The guidelines were put in place to attempt to minimise the possibility of fraud and allow conveyancers to provide a more secure service with complete confidence that people are who they say they are. It is known as the Safe Harbour Standard, as the steps allow conveyancers to meet their duty of care to ensure that no fraud is taking place.

The only types of digital ID that can be used in this system are those with biometric and cryptographic technology. Some of the types of ID that can be used include biometric passports, biometric residence permits, and IDs for EU countries with biometric data.

The challenges for conveyancers

While it is easy to understand why these sorts of ID checks are necessary, it does put a more complex burden on conveyancers. Not only has it become a part of the process to insist on these types of ID being provided during the service (which could cause confusion or slow things down), the onus is also on the conveyancer to verify the ID and match it with the identity of the person.

However, this is a timely change to the rules and it is something that is being treated as a positive by the industry. But could it be possible that there is actually a better system on the horizon?

An introduction of centralised digital ID

There has now been some suggestion that the government is once again considering the idea of digital identification. According to Bryan Glick at Computer Weekly “the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which is responsible for supporting digital identity in the private sector, has held a series of “listening exercises” with interested companies to outline its plans for a UK digital identity and attributes trust framework”.

There could be all sorts of possibilities and ramifications for digital ID – if they are introduced they could be important for issues such as booking GP appointments, providing you have the right to work in the UK, or proving age when making purchases online, could be some of the many times that digital ID could be used.

Clearly, conveyancing is one of the areas that a centralised digital ID could really help, as it could take away the need to go through the complex process of auditing multiple different types of ID.

What are the advantages of centralised digital ID?

There are actually a wide range of benefits for there being a centralised digital ID system.

Many of these benefits are directly related to conveyancing services, as we can see:
  • Proof of age – digital ID offers an ideal age verification service whether you are making an application to something or wish to purchase an age-restricted product or service online.
  • Cybersecurity – this is, unfortunately, an issue of growing importance, but digital ID could be important in combating a number of different issues in cybercrime including business email compromise and email phishing.
  • Financial service links – your digital ID could be easily linked to your financial accounts and applications with unprecedented levels of security.
  • Proof of rights – digital ID can very quickly and easily provide proof that you have specific rights in the UK.

Why would this be valuable to conveyancing providers?

A centralised digital ID system would provide conveyancers with a simple key to verify the identity of an individual they are working with. The current system requires going through the slightly clunky procedure of requesting the ID, waiting for the customer to send over an acceptable copy or facsimile, then verifying it depending on the type of ID it is.

A centralised digital ID has a single place to verify and it would be understood as a necessary part of a property transaction. This would provide an easier service from the conveyancer’s perspective, and allow complete trust from the customer’s perspective.

Final thoughts

It is certainly true that digital ID is an idea that has gained ground and popularity fast. It may be the case that we are looking at a future where digital ID will become, if not required, highly useful. It has the potential to really help conveyancers feel more secure that they are carrying out the comprehensive ID checks on their customers to ascertain their identity.


Kindly shared by Annie Button

Main article photo courtesy of Pixabay