What’s new for identity in 2018?

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The digital identity landscape is constantly changing. The many evolutions, disruptions and innovation going on in this space is so vast that predicting which will break out with any accuracy is no mean feat. 

However, there are some key trends in 2018 which are set to shake up the industry.   

Data Protection for the EU is revamped, along with its fines 

GDPR continues to be a hot topic for all industries, gathering pace before it comes into full force in May. In terms of digital identity, the regulation will really benefit consumers who have their personal details stored in many places that they thought were long deleted.  

Businesses that take the ‘store everything around customer data’ mantra will have to prove consent and rationale behind every single stored record. Huge amounts of data will have to be deleted, and not simply ‘archived somewhere safe’ as there is no escape from this.   

However, it is very likely not all companies will react in time and this will result in greater fines from the ICO, eclipsing those of £400k issued in the past year. 

Biometrics are cool, but are they x12 better in every use case? 

Biometrics add another layer of certainty in identity verification and streamlines the customer journey by removing key strokes.  In 2018, we’re going to see more and more companies embrace mobile and the need to scan/verify ID documents with minimal keystrokes. This is because consumers are becoming more comfortable on-boarding on mobile and not waiting until they’re on their desktop or in a branch.    

Traditional methods still have a place. However, in some cases, the user journey is significantly improved when taking a selfie is an option, rather than manually entering long drivers’ license details.   

Let’s consider the example of the iPhone X facial recognition feature that comes with Apple Pay, and how users have been slower to adopt it than expected. It seems consumer are saying that the existing processes of fingerprint login and a contactless debit card is ‘good enough’. For a service to entirely replace another and reach mass adoption, it needs to be significantly better.   

So testing and taking feedback will be key to see where biometrics improve the process.  But overall it’s likely we’ll see a continued rise of facial recognition adoption though-out many user journeys and we’ll be taking selfies during sign-up much more in 2018. 

Global regulation enables innovation, opening the door for Machine Learning solutions   

A huge amount of groundwork was done on regulations in 2017 including Open Banking, eIDAS, PAS449, JMLSG and many federated identity schemes across the globe.   

Here is what they all have in common: 

  • More data will be available/usable than before 
  • More creative ways of matching this data can be used to be compliant 
  • Much more room for innovation on how these regulations are implemented 

So, the identity space will have an opportunity to use Machine Learning (ML) in some of the core processes and move it out from the POC projects we’ve seen in 2017. ML needs data, and lots of it to be effective, and 2018 will see more of this data become available where making sensible decisions based on it will not just use ML but need it. A human brain simply can’t code the complexity and keep up with the real time changes.    

It’s therefore likely ‘machine learning’ will become more than a buzz word included on presentations to impress people, and actually begin to add real value which in turn will improve the overall match rates and reduce fraud. By how much? It’s too early to tell; we need to see the first POC’s use real live data before making any predictions on that one… 

The Internet of Things (IOT) and the Identity of Things (IDoT) will continue to disappoint 

We were supposed to be talking to our toasters and getting fitness advice from our sofas in 2017. Whilst that did happen in some edge cases, the actual value of these products tended to be used for DDoS attacks as opposed to what they were actually intended.   

 Just as verifying an identity of a person is difficult, adding a chip into ‘everything’ so it requires an ‘identity’ adds a significant layer of complexity that we’re just not quite ready for yet. Whilst many people received Amazon Alexa or Google Home Christmas presents, the real game-changing experiences may still be lacking in 2018. Switching on your lights and heating and making shopping lists, yes; renewing your insurance premiums or payments, unlikely. 

Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology will continue to surge 

2013 was the year of Bitcoin and by 2016 the industry had evolved into a mindset it was a ‘failed experiment’. It was then all about Blockchain technology and all its incredible use-cases.  

It’s ironic then, that 2017 decided to be an even bigger year of Bitcoin (and many other coins/ICO’s) putting the other Blockchain use cases in the shade, along with many analysts who all predicted the opposite.    

Generally, I believe use of Bitcoin and others could continue to rise in 2018 despite the many calls for the bubble to burst. The underlying Blockchain technology projects are still underway and whilst in the identity space, I don’t expect any to get mass adoption in 2018, we could see some very innovative solutions that decentralise the management of identity.    

Predicting if/when this will break out is near impossible, but identity in this space needs its ‘Pokemon Go moment’ where millions of users flock to a service to overcome the mass adoption challenge.     

Gareth Stephens, Head of Product at GBG 

Image Credit: Pasieka / Getty Images