Homebuyers now able to use smartphones to prove identities

HM Land Registry has launched its first Digital Identity Standard to make identity verification safer and more convenient for anyone buying property in England and Wales.

While it is optional, HM Land Registry would not seek recourse against conveyancers who comply with the standard in the event their client was not who they claimed to be. The new technology forms part of plans to move to one point of identification and access for consumers.

The new Digital Identity Standard

The new standard requires the use of smartphones to extract encrypted information contained within the chips of documents such as passports, providing enhanced security. The use of digital technology also means parties to the verification process do not need to meet physically.

HM Land Registry hopes technology providers will look to the Digital Identity Standard as a blueprint, with a view to developing a range of secure and convenient products to help conveyancers. The intention is that the standard will continue to be developed and tailored, widening the scope to incorporate different legal entities. HM Land Registry will also explore the availability of more enhanced digital means of obtaining evidence linking the party to the transaction with the particular property.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is currently developing an overarching ‘trust framework’ for digital identity use across the economy. They will work closely with HM Land Registry to align their work.

The standard is available in HM Land Registry’s new Practice guide 81: encouraging the use of digital technology in identity verification.

Proving your identity when buying or selling your property can be a pain. But of course, it is essential to the security of such high-value transactions. This new standard for digital biometric identity checking marks an exciting milestone towards a truly digital conveyancing process.

In a challenging year, we set up a cross-industry forum to support our conveyancing colleagues. First, we brought in electronic signatures to remove any need for paper in conveyancing. Now through this same collaboration, we are able to bring a new digital identity standard to reduce the risk of fraud and make transactions a more digital, easier and faster experience.

Mike Harlow General Counsel, Deputy Chief Executive and Deputy Chief | Land Registry

Propertymark's activites

Propertymark is fully supportive of moves to digitise to home buying and selling process. We are part of several working groups looking at how to introduce more digital technology into the property sector.

Alongside other leading residential property bodies, we recently signed an open letter to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and Thalia Baldwin, Director of the Geospatial Commission highlighting the benefits and calling for the introduction of Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) for every addressable location in the UK.

13 Jan 2021
Property industry urges the use of the UPRN across the sector

Propertymark, along with other leading residential property bodies across the UK, have published an open letter to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and Thalia Baldwin, Director of the Geospatial Commission highlighting the potential benefits from implementing a widely adopted Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN).