We want to make sure that the people who are expected to use GOV.UK Verify can do so. Our target for demographic coverage by ‘live’ is 90%.
When we set that objective back in March 2015, GOV.UK Verify could only cover about 65% of the UK adult population. Since then, our demographic coverage has increased to 80%. Here we share some of the latest developments that mean more people are able to use GOV.UK Verify to access government services online.
When you use GOV.UK Verify, a certified company of your choice asks you for evidence to prove your identity, and carries out a range of other checks to verify that it’s really you and not someone pretending to be you.
Certified companies can validate different types of identity evidence
At the start of our public beta, it was only possible to verify your identity if you had a passport, a driving licence and a credit card or loan. You also had to answer questions based on your credit history. This meant our demographic coverage was limited to those with a photocard driving licence issued in Great Britain, a UK passport, and a credit card or loan.
The certified companies have been building and adopting new methods to give people more ways to prove their identity and extend the demographic coverage of GOV.UK Verify. For example, because of advances in the way certified companies are able to validate identity evidence, it’s now possible to verify your identity using a wide range of identity evidence, including any passport, any EU identity document, and any bank account or payment card.
Certified companies are now able to validate a wider range of payment cards, so that people can use them as identity evidence. Previously, certified companies relied mainly on checking details provided by users against credit reference agency files. They can now use methods developed for online payments to check an electronic payment card directly with the issuing authority. This means that their coverage of payment cards is higher, because almost all types of card that can be used as identity evidence can be validated in this way.
You don’t need as much evidence to prove your identity
Whereas previously you would often need 3 pieces of evidence to prove your identity, now you will often only need 2 pieces of evidence. This is because certified companies have developed stronger ways to validate each piece of evidence, so they can reach the required level of confidence that the identity really exists with fewer different pieces of proof.
You can take a photo of yourself instead of answering questions based on credit history
Certified companies have to establish that the identity you’re asserting really belongs to you. At the start of our public beta, certified companies did this by asking you questions only you are likely to know they answer to, based on credit reference agency files. So as part of the process of verifying your identity, you would have to answer questions about credit cards, loans or mortgages in your name.
Now, GOV.UK Verify also works for people who don’t want or aren’t able to answer questions about their loans, credit cards or mortgages, or who don’t have enough financial products on their credit file to serve as a basis for security questions.
If you have a smartphone or tablet and a UK passport, you can now - with 2 of the companies - verify your identity without answering questions about your credit history. Instead, you can use an app to scan your identity document and take a photograph of yourself, so the images can be compared. The certified companies built this capability for GOV.UK Verify, to give more options for users and make it more straightforward for more people to use GOV.UK Verify to access services.
More ways to sign in - you no longer need a mobile phone
Certified companies are required to give users a strong credential, including a second step to protect you against your credentials being stolen or compromised. The second step means that even if someone steals your username and password, they can’t easily use them because they aren’t able to complete the second step.
At the start of our public beta, the only way to complete the second step was to receive an SMS code on your mobile phone. This meant that to use GOV.UK Verify, you needed to have a UK-registered mobile phone and be somewhere with a mobile phone signal, so you could receive a code by text message each time you signed in using GOV.UK Verify.
Now, when you sign in to a service using GOV.UK Verify, you can now choose to use an app to generate a security code or to receive a security code on your landline phone, rather than waiting for a text to arrive, so you don’t need a mobile phone or to be in an area with a mobile phone signal. This means more people are able to use GOV.UK Verify’s secure sign-in credentials.
The next three months will be an exciting time for GOV.UK Verify. Our existing certified companies will be continuing to improve and expand their services, and new certified companies will be joining the service, each bringing their own combination of methods and approaches.