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Documentary versus electronic ID verification

By Chris Morton on December 4, 2014

There are many ways to verify an individual’s identity but they broadly fall into two categories: documentary and electronic ID verification.

Documentary ID Verification

Documentary ID verification passport

Documentary ID verification is the method to verify the authenticity of physical documents. When in person or submitting paperwork, copies of documents such as identity cards, birth certificates, legal documents, and utility bills provide the basis to verify the authenticity of the person providing the information. These documents may be certified copies, be embossed with seals, or have holograms to provide evidence of authenticity. The conclusion is that only person possessing these documents and having similar characteristics to the person stated on the documents such as photos, sex, addresses, and schooling is likely to be the person owning the identity.

Advantages

  • Easy to perform sufficient photo ID verification in person
  • Provides sufficient hurdles to deter most fraudulent activity
  • Documents may be the only method available to verify a person’s identity

Disadvantages

  • Challenging to perform when not in person
  • Authenticating most documents is impossible or cost prohibitive because it requires sending the documents to the issuing authority
  • Many types of documents may be not be available due to loss, fire, floor, or insufficient record keeping
  • People are less likely to keep utilities in their names which makes proof of residency challenging

Electronic ID Verification

Electronic ID verification computer

BlockScore provides a electronic ID verification method to verify the identity of a person meaning that only knowledge is required. Information that only the owner of the identity is likely to know is checked against authoritative sources for authenticity. Additionally, the authoritative source may also prompt the person being verified for additional information to further verify his or her authenticity. The additional questions returned from authoritative sources is called question sets or knowledge-based authentication (KBA).

Advantages

  • Easy and cost effective to check against many authoritative sources quickly
  • Additional screenings can easily be performed such as checking against government watchlists
  • Works well over the Internet
  • May fulfill compliance obligations

Disadvantages

  • Authoritative sources may not be available to check against in certain countries and among certain demographics
  • Privacy laws may prohibit using authoritative information to verify a person

Combining documentary and electronic ID verification methods

Businesses can use both documentary and electronic ID verifications together to mitigate risk and comply with regulations. In many jurisdictions, electronic ID verification is required to ensure that it is legal to do business with a person by checking the person against watchlists. Automated documentary ID verification, such as Jumio Netverify, can be added to the user flow as part of the signup process or when certain events occur such as large transactions. Information extracted by using automated documentary ID verification such as Netverify can be sent directly to BlockScore for electronic ID verification simultaneously.

Conclusion

Businesses have options to balance the impact to users and the need to verify the identity of individuals to comply with regulations and mitigate fraud. Documentary, electronic, or both methods of ID verification can be implemented to minimize the impact to users at various places in the signup flow and ongoing relationship. BlockScore provides the easiest-to-implement electronic ID verification service and works with others such as Jumio for documentary ID verification.

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