Identity service to be extended to private sector
Consumers could be using RealMe, a proof-of-identity service developed by the Government and marketed by New Zealand Post, to open bank accounts, arrange loans and deal with utilities and government agencies online, later this year.
Internal Affairs has previously suggested it could also be used for verification on online auction sites such as Trade Me, preventing people from trading under false identities.
NZ Post said the service would not necessarily do away with the plethora of logons and passwords that people needed to remember to transact with banks and utilities online, although it knew from research that was high on some people's wishlists.
The Government has spent $58 million since 1999 developing the service, known up until now as iGovt, which lets people log on to a wide variety of government web services using a single logon and password. They also register their mobiles so they can be texted a code that they can enter online to prove their identity.
A law change, the Electronic Identity Verification Bill, which is expected to be passed by Parliament later this year, will let private businesses use the same credentials to check people's identity against government records.
NZ Post will unveil the new "consumer-friendly" RealMe brand for the business-facing service at a conference at a Victoria University conference at Te Papa today.
More than 424,000 iGovt logons have been requested since they became available in 2006, although only 1100 people are using the identity verification service. The latter can only be used at the moment to access Internal Affairs' Births, Deaths and Marriages database online, but Internal Affairs hopes it will later let people undertake a wide range of transactions with the Government, such as renewing passports, applying for Inland Revenue numbers and registering to vote.
NZ Post agency services head Mandy Smith said it had early discussions with "financial services organisations and others that need to identify their customers online to prevent things like identity fraud."
In conjunction with checking people's identities, NZ Post would also be offering to verify people's addresses. "The banks are all preparing to meet new regulations with regard to money laundering. RealMe will be a great aid in that," Smith said.
ASB's general manager of retail and business banking, Ian Park, said it was always looking for opportunities to streamline its products and make banking simpler. "We are watching the iGovt developments closely."
Banks and utilities were likely to be charged a fee each time they used RealMe to verify a customer's identity and/or address, Smith said.
People will need to visit one of 150 specially kitted-out post shops, where they will be digitally photographed, to enroll in RealMe, which will be free to the public and voluntary. That is so their identity can be checked against passport records. They will need to re-enroll every five years.
Banks, telcos and other utilities could use RealMe logons, passwords and the two-factor authentication codes that will be texted to mobiles to control access to services such as internet banking and email accounts. Consumers would only need to remember one set of credentials.
Smith said it would be promoting that idea to businesses, but it was a secondary focus. "The challenge ... is that most private sector organisations have already invested in a solution to meet that requirement, whereas as they haven't to verify people's identity."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Are you happy with the Facebook News Feed redesign?Related story: Facebook shakes up News Feed