Management > Identity

GDS backs pilot to test digital identity for banking across borders

David Bicknell Published 12 July 2017

Government Digital Service part of consortium that also includes HSBC, Barclays, Orange, OT-Morpho and the Open Identity Exchange


The Government Digital Service (GDS) is a member of a consortium of leading European private and public sector organisations which has said it will start a pilot into the use of a citizen’s national digital identity from France to open a bank account in the UK.

The consortium comprises HSBC, Barclays, GDS, Orange, OT-Morpho and the Open Identity Exchange (OIX UK), a  trade organisation dedicated to building the volume and velocity of trusted transactions online.

The project is being co-financed by the European Union's Connecting Europe Facility, a European funding instrument that supports the development of interconnected trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy and digital services.

The consortium plans to carry out the work using eIDAS (Electronic Identity and Signature) standards, which is a set of official standards for electronic identification and transactions in the European Single Market that were built for the public sector. The project will test how these can also be used for the private sector.

The consortium will utilise the Mobile Connect authentication process that allows the user to request a digital ID that is validated via eIDAS, with further attributes being collated and shared with the banks.

This project plans to develop and test a prototype as well as building the service design, infrastructures and operational framework that leverage eIDAS to enable a more trustworthy and efficient account opening process for EU citizens.

Orange is to create the services that will allow a digital identity to be set up for use by a French citizen through Mobile Connect. OT-Morpho will develop services and infrastructure for the identity authentication process needed, while HSBC and Barclays will evaluate how eIDAS services and other attribute information can be used to fulfill their account opening processes for international customers.

Trista Sun, HSBC's global head of international and cross border said, “We are embracing digital and technology innovation to do more for our customers. We already have a world-class international account opening service.

"However, currently, customers often have to produce a separate set of identification paperwork when they open a bank account in a new country. The use of recognised, trusted digital IDs across borders will revolutionise this process.”

Jessica Westerouen van Meeteren, executive vice president of Government Identity Solutions Division at Morpho said, “As consumers, we have to prove our identity every day, one way or another, and we will be doing this more and more in digital form, primarily through our smartphones and tablets.

"There is a huge need for technologies to enable remote authentication solutions that are fast, simple and safe. In this innovative project, we are proud to leverage our expertise in digital identity to accelerate the development of identification solutions across borders for users and banks.”

Frank Joshi, director at Mvine Ltd said, "I welcome the announcement by OIX UK. It's essential to test the feasibility of digital identity across borders. I think eIDAS and Mobile Connect are great choices for the pilot. I wish all members of the consortium every success and will watch with interest as it progresses.

“I think it is great these cross border projects are starting to grapple with the nitty gritty. Understanding the various attribute sets that the two different countries will utilise is vital. Cross border collaboration on protocols and on how you structure the exchange for accurate data format mapping is equally vital, e.g. First Name, Last Name / Prenom, Nom not to mention formatting the postal address. Such basic information has to be faultless,” he said.

One identity specialist commented that the current pilot was very similar to work carried out as part of the EU's STORK project "circa 2009". He added, "It would seem sensible to address the issues raised before repeating the same experience. Of course there has also recently been a trial of using something good enough for a Norwegian Bank to see if it is OK for the UK (but not vice versa), which is hardly re-use in another context, and not a wonderful EU-exemplar as Norway isn't in the EU."




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