Oliver Obitavo: Identity Verification – Predictions for 2021

By Oliver Obitayo, Chief Sales Officer at IDnow

After possibly the most turbulent ever year for business, many organisations have faced unprecedented trading conditions all over the globe, IDnow’s CSO, Oliver Obitayo, discusses what he expects 2021 to bring to the identity verification market and the industries it supports.

Moving onboarding process from compliance to competitive advantage

For many years, the onboarding process, including Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements, has been viewed as an unavoidable necessity in order to remain compliant. Unfortunately, many firms underestimate the importance of this process and view it in too narrow a context. For example, comparing identity verification providers based purely on price rather than thinking more broadly about the process and the overall experience it offers potential customers is a missed opportunity in terms of added value.

Consumers expect a frictionless onboarding process and this can be the difference between converting a prospect or not. Businesses are increasingly realising the power beyond the process, with many seeking verification providers that understand the customer as well as the KYC regulatory landscape.

As such, I expect many to switch onto the concept that onboarding can actually offer a competitive advantage, where customers are put at the heart of the onboarding process and where KYC becomes a much broader business topic, even in the boardroom.


Rise of consumerisation

Consumers have come to expect a seamless online experience, even more so this year since the pandemic drove the entire world to their smartphone or laptop and this consumerisation megatrend has now hit onboarding processes and KYC.

Most end users expect all processes they encounter to be available in an App, instantly granting them access to the service or product they demand. To remain relevant, firms must fulfil this expectation and with that, comes a need for hardcore technology that will deliver compliance and security.

I expect this consumerisation to continue to grow as more and more customers switch their lives and interactions with businesses online.


Embedding and improving existing technologies

Covid-19 has significantly accelerated global digitalisation – experts suggest by as much as five to eight years. Many industries and businesses have had to quickly adapt and pivot in order to retain their share of the market, placing huge pressure on firms to implement technology in order to deliver this digital, remote experience.

Thankfully, technology innovation has been the main driver of the identity verification market for many years, enabling the sector to meet the significant rise in demand with speed and efficiency. In our recent Security Report, we reported significantly higher demand for our products and services as restrictions around Covid-19 continue to push digitisation. There was a strong increase of 250% in fraud attempts this year, with new developments in identity fraud heavily impacting the global cybercrime figures.

Our order intakes rose by 358% year-on-year, while transactions via IDnow AudoIdent grew tenfold, with an increase of 1,000% in the number of transactions recorded between January and June 2020.

For 2021 then, I expect to see a focus on embedding and improving some key technologies that make the identity verification market as secure as it is. Priorities will be enhancing the use of Artificial Intelligence and sophisticated technology in order to drive automation and detection of dynamic security features in ID documents. In addition, Machine Learning, biometric face recognition, 3D modelling, wallet and reusability and integrated electronic signatures (eIDAS standard) processes will be improved.

I also predict the development of a global identity verification platform that caters to the different KYC client needs within multi-geographical, multi-regulatory frameworks in order to maximise conversion, fraud prevention and user experience in a compliant way. Ideally, this would be delivered by a single provider.


Evolving regulatory landscape

With the rise of cybercrime and identity theft, more and more countries are updating their regulatory frameworks more frequently, and often making them much stricter. The rules surrounding Anti-Money Laundering are also expanding to cover more industries. This evolving regulatory landscape will become increasingly complex, not least when the UK leaves the European Union on 31st December 2020.

As such, I expect firms to become much more reliant on their identity verification providers to offer the highest level of regulatory compliance, regardless of their geography or sector.


Market proliferation

As already discussed, Covid-19 has really driven growth in demand for online services and as a result, firms are increasingly seeking secure and compliant identity verification partners.

I see this demand only increasing in 2021 with more multi-jurisdictional regulations, dramatic uptake of remote business models and contactless processes, all of which drive the need for onboarding and KYC processes backed up with secure identity verification from established providers with pan-European operations.


Emerging markets and passing geographical boundaries

We are predicting a substantial increase in the need for online identity verification across many new geographies and industries next year as manual processes are replaced by automated alternatives. Opening bank accounts from home in a compliant, secure and convenient way via an App or web; signing contracts in a legally binding manner or renting cars within a couple of minutes have already become the norm for many.

Industries such as travel or hospitality will introduce automated, digital ways to onboard and engage with their passengers/guests; eHealth and using a true electronic patient record will become the norm; the financial industry will continue to further optimise their frontends, but also better integrate backend processes seamlessly. Meanwhile, governments and insurance firms will need to become more digitally available, as they face an urgent need to verify and know their customers.


With all these various trends and developments, the market for identity verification providers serving only one or two verification methodologies and regulatory environments is closing. Sectors and organisations the world over will increasingly seek a one-stop shop for best and seamless identify verification for the new normal. Which is why we are transforming into a global identity verification platform provider, which continues to add a broader range of products and services to its offering.