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It has been three years since HMLR introduced Safe Harbour, which provided conveyancers and landlords with a digital identity standard to protect them from property fraud. Many conveyancers have widely adopted the standard, but, as Credas asks, why have we yet to see a similar scheme for the entire home-buying chain?

Despite the Government’s efforts to drive compliance within the market, including the publication of Good Practice Guide 45 (GPG 45), which sets out how to verify someone’s identity confidently, many still need clarification on what they should be doing.

For already overstretched property professionals, navigating the extensive guide and new concepts like document strengths and level of confidence is another burden they can do without.

Plenty has been achieved since the introduction of Safe Harbour. Eighteen months ago, the first cohort of Identity Service Providers (IDSP) was certified against the UK Government’s Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework (DIATF), which assesses whether an IDSP can verify an identity according to the framework’s standards.

Tim Barnett, CEO of Credas Technologies comments:

The introduction of the framework was a big step forward, and leading industry bodies such as the Conveyancing Association have already recommended using only certified ID service providers, but we are still without a unified or standardised scheme.

“This could all change with the introduction of The Digital Property Market Steering Group, which brings together the different parties and regulators to help solve the most common problems plaguing the homebuying process, including digital ID.

He adds:

“As part of its roadmap, the steering group aims to see the rapid adoption of digital ID and secure e-signatures. In May, the group should publish its planned activity to increase uptake across the property sector.

“We’ve also seen HM Treasury launch a consultation to improve the effectiveness of Money Laundering Regulations. The consultation references electronic IDV and describes how the private sector has previously expressed a desire for the Treasury to clearly set out how electronic IDV can satisfy MLRs.”

The consultation states:

[..] the Government is considering the value of producing bespoke guidance, explaining how regulated firms can refer to the UK digital identity and attributes trust framework, in relation to fulfilling their regulatory obligations under the MLRs. This guidance would clarify how the combined use of the trust framework, as a document of rules, standards and other requirements that apply to the whole economy, and GPG45 can facilitate reliable customer identity verification as required by the MLRs

Tim Barnett, continues:

“The technology for standardised, reusable digital ID is certainly there, and the various stakeholders involved are all in favour of it. Accessibility needs to be a key aspect of any future standard. For example, not everyone has a passport, and we shouldn’t disadvantage those who do while also keeping the property market secure.

“A single standard for all UK industries may not be feasible or even the best approach, as different markets come with different risks, and therefore, standards need to reflect this. Any future standardisation will need to involve a combination of regulatory, technological, and societal advancements aimed at enhancing security, privacy, and convenience in digital interactions while ensuring the protection of individuals’ rights and identities.”

Credas Technologies performs ID checks in real-time using cutting-edge facial recognition – reducing the complex, time-consuming, resource intensive and often, expensive processes.  By working with a wide range of leading commercial data suppliers, Credas offers comprehensive checks on individuals, companies, and verifies over 4,000 types of identity documents via the Credas app or website.


Emma Waddingham

Emma Waddingham

Editor, Legal News

Emma Waddingham is the Editor & Founder of Legal News. She is a seasoned legal editor and journalist and experienced marketing & events consultant, working almost exclusively with the UK legal sector.