Open Identity Exchange (OIX) Identity Trust Conference

by Tom Staley - Technology Advisory and Innovation Lead
| minute read

We eagerly attended the OIX Identity Trust Conference last week, where the key theme was the importance of building trust in order to promote the adoption of digital identities by organisations. We certainly weren’t disappointed by the in-depth exploration of what is a crucial topic.

Many organisations rely on some form of identity verification, but often this process needs to be repeated for each unique interaction. This results in user experiences full of friction, as well as high operational costs for organisations.

But imagine if we could verify ourselves once, manage our identities always and share a single, re-usable identity wherever and whenever?

The world that OIX is seeking to create is neatly summarised by its vision - ‘a world where we can all prove our identity and eligibility anywhere, using a simple universally trusted ID’. The message shared by Nick Mothershaw (OIX Chief Identity Strategist) was loud and clear… ‘The time for identity is now, so get ready.’

Nick explored the factors that are creating the momentum required to deliver on the promise of digital identity adoption; including the emergence of trust frameworks and schemes, progress in regulation and standards, as well as technological advances (especially in biometric capabilities).

Let’s take a look at the key themes that were explored throughout the conference:

We need Identity Ecosystems, with organisations working together to solve shared problems

IATA presented the Travel Pass initiative that’s been developed throughout the pandemic to deliver seamless travel. It was interesting to note that despite passenger volumes falling, passenger throughput times have actually increased due to COVID certification requirements.

This highlights the importance of addressing both the pressure of pre-COVID passenger volume growth, as well as the need for a consistent global approach to vaccination certificates to improve passenger experience, security and operations.

IATA are bringing the travel industry together, but trust ecosystems often overlap. Individuals need to be empowered to use their identity across industries. Consider the intersection of travel and health for example; two markets previously considered independent but now highly interrelated owing to COVID.

Another multi-stakeholder identity ecosystem initiative was presented - the Global Assured Identity Network (GAIN). GAIN is striving to use trusted and regulated providers to verify that they are the person and/or that they have the credentials that they claim. GAIN is an open-source initiative and is actively welcoming organisations to participate in its upcoming proof of concept to move the initiative forwards.

Trust Frameworks and Trust Schemes are essential to ensure the development of trusted identity ecosystems

A clearly defined framework is essential. One that works across all relevant business and technology domains, and that specifies the policies relevant to the foundation of an ecosystem. Such a framework helps to enable and encourage both user and organisation adoption.

Don Thibeau, Vice Chair of the OIX, hosted a panel exploring the lessons learnt from established frameworks, including those in Canada and Norway. The development of global payments and telecoms networks were also highlighted as reference points for the UK and other countries who are considering the development of identity ecosystems.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport provided an update on the UK digital identity and attributes trust framework. This is the framework against which organisations will shortly commence testing to validate the standards that have been defined.

It was also interesting to see the European Digital Identity Framework presented. European member States are set to offer citizens and businesses digital wallets, able to link their national digital identities with proof of other personal attributes. These wallets may be provided by public authorities or by private entities, provided they are recognised by a Member State. Perhaps most crucially it will be mandated that certain sectors accept citizen digital identities presented through recognised digital wallets.

Don’t leave anyone behind

Finally, we welcomed the key findings from the OIX Inclusion report. The report identifies those in the UK population who can’t verify their identity through traditional means as they lack the typically used ID documents.

The report highlighted an estimated 5.9 million individuals in the UK who are ‘ID Challenged’. The report also suggests that access to identity services will be improved through access to a broad range of data sets (financial services, healthcare etc) and alternate ID proofing techniques.

In Summary

Interestingly, to wrap up the day there was a panel on ‘What needs to happen in order to drive adoption’ where three key points were made by the panellists:

Firstly, the commercial incentive for organisations to accept digital identities must be clearly defined. Many organisations currently utilise a volume-based transaction model for identity proofing, and there must be a clear articulation of monetary value from the movement to a new model.

Secondly, we cannot ignore the role of regulation. For example, the FA have a regulatory requirement to perform identity checks as stated in legislation.

And finally, education is key. Without a common understanding of what identity is, how it can be used and the benefits it brings, adoption will always lag behind potential.

Please do reach out if you’re interested in the subjects explored, or wish to discuss how we can make identity a reality.