Improving the home buyer's experience through digital identities 

Propertymark is playing a vital role in the UK Government's work on digital identity policy in the home buying process with an exclusive invite from Julia Lopez MP, Minister of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to attend a workshop to pinpoint barriers to the adoption and agree on potential solutions.  

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The session brought together organisations from across the digital identity ecosystem including providers, relying parties, regulators, civil society groups and policy officials, as well as experts in conveyancing and finance, who looked at solutions to the wider involvement of digital identities and their benefits to consumers.

Awareness in the property sector

Despite the advantages, there is currently a reluctance for the sector to take up digital identities. Uptake may improve when the process is given greater awareness and clarity on liability if the system, in any part of the chain, fails to deliver, plus, how will systems be maintained and paid for and who will regulate the process.

Propertymark driving digital identities forward

Recognising the benefits to the sector in improving the speed of home purchases, reducing fraud, and improving the experience for consumers, Propertymark has been instrumental in the development of the digital identity trust scheme, 'MyIdentity', which has moved into the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) sandbox environment. We will continue to raise awareness and engage with the UK Government about the advantages. 

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16 Mar 2022
Digital identity scheme moves to live testing

Speeding up checks and reducing fraud 

The Norwegian home-buying process has embraced digital identities and has contributed as one of the factors in reducing the time taken to purchase a house from 16 days to a single day. Estate agents, conveyancers, solicitors, financial intermediaries, and mortgage lenders are required by law to prove a consumer’s identity through the home buying and selling process to prevent money laundering and fraud. While these checks are necessary to tackle fraud, duplications can add additional time and expense. 

The session also highlighted that the Norwegian use of digital identities reduced fraud in their home-buying process by over 1000%. Propertymark stated that with so many professionals and stakeholders involved in the home-buying process, an agreed standard of security would be required for the adoption of digital identities. Given the impact of fraud and the need for consumer confidence, the level of security would also have to be high to eradicate the fraudulent use of digital identities which could be governed by legislation. With reduced fraud, there could also be an opportunity for reduced home insurance premiums for homeowners. 

Ensuring consumers are not excluded

When using technology, there are always likely to be some consumers that will prefer not to use the technology. This could be due to perceived suspicion in data collection or a lack of understanding of the technology. The Land Registry took the opportunity to explain as part of the digitisation of their services, they have increased digital services for most customers. However, alternative methods are still available for the small number of customers who prefer not to use digital services ensuring that nobody is excluded. In the early stages of the digitalisation of the home-buying process, this could be a practical compromise. 

Recognising some of the benefits to the sector in improving the speed of home purchases, reducing fraud, and improving the experience for consumers through the use of digitalisation is really important and we are pleased to be representing agents as part of this group.

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Tim Thomas Policy and Campaigns Officer | Propertymark