PR Manager, Experian QAS
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Technology gap broadens between citizens and local government
Paper-based identity authentication prevents moves towards e-Government
London, UK, 8th September 2008 - A report on identity management published today by Experian®, the global information services company, reveals that while citizens are embracing new technology, Local Government is behind the times when it comes to identity (ID) authentication.
The research findings show that two out of three people want to apply online for benefits and services, such as parking permits, council tax/housing benefits and travel cards. However, 92 per cent of Local Government respondents said that they still rely on fraud-friendly, paper processes to prove identity. This means that citizens face the option of visiting government offices in person or sending their valuable ID documents by post. A third of people said that they find this process inconvenient.
Chris Bartlett, Head of Justice, Home Affairs and Security at Experian, commented: “Two thirds of British households now have the Internet and that figure is increasing year on year. We also lead increasingly busy lives so it is no wonder so many people would prefer to apply for services or benefits online.’
“Old fashioned paper-based authentication is familiar to Local Government but these systems are frequently subject to forgery and fraud. Using electronic authentication to automate this process and reduce human interaction is the best way to make ID management more efficient. It has already proven to be safer, cheaper and more effective at highlighting fraudulent applications.”
The report’s key findings, from an Experian/YouGov survey of 189 Local Government executives responsible for managing services and benefits that require proof of ID, include:
67 per cent of executives said ID and/or residency fraud is a problem in relation to the services that they provide
20 per cent think that there is no risk at all in storing customer identity documents onsite
54 per cent said customers can apply for services/benefits online but only 8 per cent said that the ID verification process was automated
Of those that do not provide services online, 30 per cent admitted it is not something they are considering at present
Only 8 per cent think that customers may be unhappy or very unhappy with current paper-based processes
In contrast, an Experian/YouGov survey of 1143 consumers revealed that:
40 per cent said providing services over the internet is the most significant improvement Government could make to customer service
A third find paper-based authentication inconvenient or very inconvenient
Of the Local Authorities that do not currently use electronic authentication, only 10 per cent said they are planning to switch in the next 12 months.
Chris Bartlett concluded, “The Transformational Government report states that the Government must try to keep up with the pace of technological change to remain efficient and trustworthy. Electronic authentication of identity is a good example of how this can be done.”
Electronic authentication tracks the key transactional events in people’s lives, together with their data history, and cross-references them electronically. This means organisations can be confident that the customer really is who they say they are.
To obtain a free copy of Experian’s ‘Electronic Authentication: Bridging the Gap’ report, please go to www.qas.co.uk/change