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Verify team claims availability target is in sight



Research shows the Government's online identity assurance service should be available to 90% of adults when it goes live in April

The team behind the GOV.UK Verify service has done some confident flag waving with a claim it is on course to hit its target of being available for 90% of the adult population by April, when it will go from its beta phase to live.

It is also confident that the service, which provides online identify verification for public services, will extend its coverage even further by the summer, and has taken new steps to encourage central government departments to adopt Verify.

The team has based its forecasts on analysis using a specially designed web tool, the findings from which it has outlined in a Government Digital Service blogpost.

It says that an increase in the number of companies certified to provide the service – which went from five to nine last year – and the development of new verification methods will enable it to surpass the 90% coverage target within a few weeks of going live.

Analysis approach

The analysis was based on the methods used by the certified companies last November and involved modelling 22 of the 52 potential pieces of evidence that people could provide to prove their identities. These were selected because they are the items people are more likely to have in large numbers.

The exercise provided breakdowns of the prospects for different groups, suggesting that the proportion of early users would be higher for some than others.

People in professional and managerial jobs are more likely to be able to verify at this stage than those in non-classified groups, such as students and unemployed people, as they are more likely to have items such as identity documents and financial products that the certified companies can use.

Alternatively, people aged between 25 and 64 and more likely to have the products for verifications than those who are younger or older. Factors such as having taken out loans, mortgages and ownership of smartphones or tablets all have an influence on the projections.

But the blog says that the market among the certified companies is developing to address the gaps in demographic coverage, with a focus on groups not covered by the initial methods and data sources.

The team is planning to run further analysis to obtain more insights into the demographic breakdown.

Promoting take-up

Among the steps to encourage take-up of Verify by departments, the team has adopted a description of it as “a new scheme to fight the growing problem of online identity theft”, based on an A/B test, which compares variants to try out a hypothesis.

It is also preparing a test to help people decide which certified company would be best for them, possibly by hiding those that are less appropriate for the individual behind a button on the website's 'Choose a company' page, and working on changes to provide scope for more companies to join the scheme soon.

In addition, it is preparing to change the messaging on the hub to make it clearer for users with a non-UK passport that they will also need a UK photocard driving licence.

The most recent update on government services using Verify in its beta version, published in November, showed that 11 were actively doing so with two more connected. Eight had reached the public beta stage.

They included HM Revenue & Customs' checking of company car tax, the Department for Food and Rural Affairs' rural payments claims, and the Insolvency Service's claim for redundancy and monies owed.

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