The future of identity services lies in choice, control and security

Australians are increasingly transacting online. We pay our bills, buy goods, and often complete at least part of an application for important services - such as a credit card or licence application - online.

But the process for proving our identity is heavily reliant on the production of physical documents like a driver’s licence or Medicare card. And when Australians do transact with government online, not all of them are thrilled with the experience.

According to an Australia Post-initiated survey of almost 1,200 Australian consumers, more than half (61 per cent) had used the internet for their most recent dealings with local, state or federal government.

However, only 29 per cent of these eGov users were satisfied with their experience, and 58 per cent had encountered some problem with the online service.

The survey also revealed that what citizens really want is an easy online experience and a ‘tell me once’ approach to password management with assurance their data is secure and their privacy protected.

It’s a challenge that Australia Post is tackling head-on by transforming its identity services through:

Simplifying identity services

“We have a long history in identity services,” explains Cameron Gough, General Manager of Digital Identity at Australia Post. “We perform about six million identity-related transactions each year.”

“But as our economy increasingly moves into the digital space, there’s friction between the physical nature of a traditional identity document, and the difficulty of trying to bring that into the digital world.”

This disconnect has been the impetus for the creation of more innovative identity solutions. Australia Post’s Digital iDTM is part of this evolution.

“If someone has verified themselves once and received a Digital iDTM, you can then enable all sorts of interactions to be easier and more convenient, and give the consumer more control over that information,” says Gough.

“Once you’ve proven your identity, you can use your smart phone as a vehicle to prove who you are in person, on paper, over the phone or online.”

However, it’s not the only solution.

Digital identity will not replace in-store identity verification

According to the survey, although an overwhelming 94 per cent of Australians want all government services to be available online, 70 per cent still want to be able to choose an in-person experience when it suits them.

It’s clear that a ‘digital first’ approach may not suit every transaction or user, and a safety net is needed for those with limited internet access.

With 98 per cent of Australians living within 20km of a post office, Australia Post is taking a ‘digital and’ rather than a ‘digital only’ approach to its identity services.

Regis Bauchiere, General Manager of Identity Services, at Australia Post explains that improving the identity management capability within the retail network is a priority for this financial year.

“We’re expanding our physical identification platform by increasing our number of retail outlets with the necessary equipment (such as cameras and barcode readers) from 800 to 1,400,” says Bauchiere.

Building the identity platforms of the future

Unlike Singapore, India and Estonia among other countries, Australia is unlikely to pursue a single identity option. Again, choice and control are the pillars upon which identity management will be built.

Australia Post’s recently announced collaboration with the Digital Transformation Agency acknowledges the need to provide choice for consumers in managing their identity.

“We believe consumers must have choice and we don’t want the use of any one identification platform, including ours, to be mandated,” emphasises Gough. “Digital iDTM isn’t a solution that will work for the entire population. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can’t use it.”

As well as building capability in the retail network to handle more physical identification checks, Australia Post is also investing in developing its licensing platform.

“The process of issuing a licence is made up of several steps,” explains Bauchiere. “It involves information capture, verification of ID; payment; verifying the person is eligible for whatever they’re applying for; and issuing the licence in digital and/or physical form.”

“The next stage of that is making that licence accessible as part of that individual’s Digital iDTM to create a broader profile, and potentially enabling that licence to be checked wherever you are.”

Scaling the business is another area of focus and Australia Post already has a number of proof points here. Bauchiere says, "We currently offer police checks, passport applications and property transfer identity checks across Australia, and there are significant opportunities for us to grow our market share. We have the scale – both in our digital and retail network – to achieve this."

Transforming identity management in Australia

It’s not only individual consumers who will benefit from a simple, efficient and safe method of proving your identity.

According to research by Australia Post and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a digital identity solution could unlock up to $11 billion per annum in economic value for Australia.

In countries which have made online transacting with government easier, the productivity gains have been profound.

As Gough explains, “We have an opportunity to give consumers control of their identity. They will have the tools to easily identify themselves in physical interactions, through a contact centre and in the digital realm.”

“It will increase convenience for people, build trust and unlock enormous value in our economy that we’re not able to tap into today.”

A single digital identity could unlock billions in economic opportunity for Australia. Our white paper, A frictionless future for identity management (PDF 5.94MB), explains how.