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UK consumers confirm shift towards digital identity during lockdown likely to be permanent

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Since the beginning of lockdown measures in late March, digital services have been the only recourse for consumers needing to prove their identity in order to access services, whether that be authenticating with an insurer, or applying for a loan.

This has led to a significant shift in consumer behaviour, with 3.5 million UK adults proving their identity digitally for the very first time.

According to the Nomidio State of Identity Analysis 2020, undertaken by Opinium, this shift is likely to be permanent, with 54% of first-time users likely to continue authenticating and verifying their identity digitally in the future. The overall number increases significantly when the overall population is factored in, with 84% of respondents having increased their use of digital services during the lockdown period.

These results represent a wake-up call to companies ill-equipped to handle and store large volumes of their customers’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Every week, new stories emerge of companies that have mishandled data, with hefty fines levelled under GDPR.

Indeed, The Nomidio State of Identity Analysis exposes deep consumer concerns about the way their data is managed. 70% of respondents feel they have no control over how their data is stored, and 77% of first-time users feel vulnerable about having multiple digital service providers holding their Personally Identifiable Information such as Date of Birth, Address and Mother’s maiden name.

The data also suggests that consumer concerns are well-placed. As many as 7 million UK adults were asked to send scanned copies of sensitive ID documents, including passports and driving licenses, via email during the lockdown period. And 80% of respondents were asked to use digital identity methods generally considered inadequate by privacy experts.

Philip Black, Commercial Director at Nomidio, comments: “These results are in effect a double-edged sword. We are likely to see significant shifts in consumer behaviour as a result of the pandemic, and the shift towards digital identity will be to the long-term advantage of business. At the same time, companies with poor identity practices will be exposed, and increasingly suffer both financial and reputational damage.”

Black continues: “Our own view of digital identity is significantly different to the norm. We believe in the need for an ‘Accountable Guardian’, one that stores sensitive personal data on behalf of the individual; one that is biometrically-enabled and delivered remotely from the cloud. Importantly, the guardian is held to account by a cryptographic consent mechanism so individuals can decide what data is shared and with which organisations. This flips today’s situation, where personal data propagates hundreds of databases, on its head and reduces risk for companies in the process.”

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