Changes to anti-money laundering legislation next year are likely to accelerate the adoption of identity verification, said David Roberts, NZ Post’s RealMe business development manager.
In response, NZ Post is positioning RealMe as a business process improvement tool as much as a security system.
The financial, legal, property and real estate sectors are still heavily reliant on paper-based processes to verify signatures on agreements and documents, Roberts said.
“Businesses in these sectors are ripe for online services that digitise paperwork and workflow, paving the way for robust identity verification,” Roberts added.
Roberts said there is no other solution like RealMe and overseas suppliers of identity verification systems seem to have trouble understanding that.
"The key difference is that once an individual has a verfied their identity there is no need to upload any documents or anything like that," he said.
"In return there is no need for a business who is confirming the identity of an individual to do anything. They receive the identity attributes direct from RealMe which is direct from the Department of Internal Affairs."
While there are other AML-certiified systems, RealMe is unique in the way it links identity back directly to the individual, he added.
“Collecting customer identity information validates the existence of an identity, but it fails to link the identity to the person claiming to be its owner," he said.
"So, for example, someone can use stolen documents to create a false identity to use for illegal gains."
RealMe was developed by the Department of Internal Affairs which still manages government use of the service. The department later went to market for a commercial partner and NZ Post won the gig.
Users are charged per transaction when individual asserts their identity, for example when opening a bank account.
More than 300,000 Kiwis having had their identities stolen in the past year, with just under half suffering financial loss, according to a report by IDCARE.
IDCARE managing director Professor David Lacey says each theft equates to a loss of nearly $10,000.
As well as government agencies, private sector organisations including ANZ, BNZ, Kiwi-coin, OM Financial, Secured Signing and StudyLink, use RealMe, Roberts said.
Based on current trends, with user accounts growing by over 10,000 a month, Roberts expects 500,000 customers to be using RealMe by mid-2018.
The technology offered additional spinoffs, he says. Academic research on psychology and behavioural economics showing a correlation between the introduction of verification systems and more honest behaviour.
“We’re suggesting that someone who asserts their identity with RealMe is more likely to make honest statements – and therefore less likely to lodge a fraudulent claim,” he said.