The user is who they say they are
Over the summer, we’ve been in the discovery phase for the pensions dashboards identity service, which will verify that dashboard users really are who they say they are. We’ve been progressing our thinking on the requirements for the service.
I’m the Senior Product Owner for identity, and so it’s my pleasure to provide an update on our progress and what we’ll be doing over the next few months.
Why is identity verification important?
The vision of the Pensions Dashboards Programme is:
“To enable individuals to access their pensions information online, securely and all in one place, thereby supporting better planning for retirement and growing financial wellbeing”.
The element I’d like to focus on in that statement is ‘securely’.
A secure, effective and inclusive identity service is a critical part of the pensions dashboards ecosystem.
Dashboard users need to know they can access their pensions information and that no one else can gather their data. At the same time, pensions providers and schemes need to have the confidence they are releasing information to the right person.
The identity service is key to providing confidence in pensions dashboards. It will enable the dashboard user to create a digital identity in such a way that they can evidence who they are and control who has access to their information.
And, because the identity will be established to a defined standard, pensions providers can have confidence that the user is who they say they are, and therefore release pension information for them to view on the dashboard.
Gathering insight on identity
We want to ensure that any service we propose focuses on the right solution for the user, with adequate controls but without becoming a burden. To reflect this fully, we will seek input from our Usability Working Group, whose members’ experience of delivering and advising on user solutions will provide valuable assistance.
We have already received valuable insight from industry into the challenges of verifying people’s identities and matching them to pensions, through the Call for Input on data standards and qualitative research that we carried out. This perspective will shape any future solutions.
We’ve also been keen to draw on expertise from identity experts and gain a greater understanding of the challenges we may face and to help resolve some of the early questions that we have faced.
To gain that insight, the Open Identity Exchange hosted a series of workshops on our behalf, with open invitations to any interested parties.
The workshops looked at:
- the challenges that innovation and anticipated changes in identity services might bring
- how different methods of identity provision may impact the architectural design of the overall service
- the levels and quality of evidence that we may need to ask for when creating an identity for a user
These workshops were well attended and gave the programme team much to think about as they head into the next phase.
Alongside the workshops, we initiated a market engagement exercise, to invite responses to specific questions regarding the nature of available identity services and proposals on how we could structure and implement a service.
The market engagement exercise is open for response until 27 November. We anticipate that it will provide a strong set of information to give us clarity on the approaches that we can take.
When the market engagement closes, we will spend time assessing the responses and, where appropriate, seeking additional clarification on points made.
It’s essential that the pensions industry feels sufficiently confident in the identity service that we provide. So, we will continue to seek feedback from the industry (including pension providers, schemes and trustees) to ensure that we fully understand its needs that we must address when proving a user’s identity.
We hope to publish our findings for all of these activities early in 2021, with the major outcomes influencing the requirements for our identity service procurement, which will be announced later in the year.
We will continue to maintain an open dialogue with key stakeholders , to help ensure that we inform our approach and outcomes appropriately.