Identity verification stands as a cornerstone of trust and security in our increasingly digital world. Governments, organizations, and financial institutions worldwide are bound by laws and regulations to rigorously verify the identities of their customers. But what defines a truly effective verification method?
This article takes you on a journey through the historical evolution of verification methods spanning thousands of years. It unravels the various facets of identity checks, from their origins to the contemporary methods we rely on today.
Understanding Identity Verification
At its core, identity verification is the process of ascertaining the authenticity of the information provided by individuals. This process is indispensable in preventing illicit activities and ensuring adherence to regulatory requirements.
Identity verification can be achieved through many methods, with one of the most prevalent being comparing the information on a person’s identification documents to the details provided during the identification process. However, the specific documents required for verification vary from one country to another. For instance, in the UK, clients can submit documents such as a valid passport, a photocard driving license, or a national identity card.
Tracing the History of Identity Verification
Before we delve into the contemporary verification methods, it’s essential to glance back at the historical journey from early methods to the present-day reliance on advanced automated solutions, including document-free verification.
Throughout human history, identity verification has been a necessity. In the absence of modern technology, people initially relied on human memory to recognize each other. Even today, we employ this method when we meet new individuals. However, it’s clear that human memory is not reliable enough for official verification.
Realizing these limitations, people turned to distinctive personal items such as jewelry and markers of identity for verification. Archaeological evidence from 2004 suggests the use of such markers dating back to 100,000 years ago. Some civilizations used jewelry to denote wealth and social status, while others utilized tattoos to signify tribal affiliation and ancestral lineage.
Identity verification subsequently evolved into the concept of a census. The Babylonian Empire was a pioneer in collecting and recording personal information. Over time, the census process became more sophisticated and accurate. The Roman Empire developed a systematic approach for generating documents for its citizens.
In 1414, King Henry V introduced the first version of the passport, enabling English citizens to prove their identity when traveling abroad. With technological advancements, identification documents like passports became more structured and dependable, incorporating the use of photographs for verification.
The pivotal moment in verification technology occurred in 1960 with the creation of the first computer password. Passwords were favored for their simplicity, especially when compared to alternative solutions. However, in 1966, this system faced its first security breach, setting the stage for ongoing debates on the reliability of password-based protection against hackers.
The 1990s saw the introduction of security questions to confirm users’ identities. These personal questions were intended for recovering passwords or providing an additional layer of security. Nonetheless, identity thieves eventually found ways to bypass these checks, prompting a quest for more secure solutions.
The 2010s witnessed the emergence of advanced biometric systems via mobile technology. Initially used in law enforcement, technologies like fingerprint and facial verification rapidly became commonplace features in mobile devices. Identity verification continues to evolve as innovative technologies are developed across the globe. Regardless of the technology employed, the ultimate aim remains the same: streamlining user verification and safeguarding businesses from fraud.
Exploring Popular Verification Methods
Know Your Customer (KYC) providers continually innovate to simplify and expedite the verification process. Below, we outline the primary methods employed to achieve these objectives:
· Database Verification: This method involves cross-referencing a customer’s information with multiple databases. A successful match grants access and verifies the customer’s identity. Database verification is frequently used to assess the customer’s risk level and minimize manual checks. However, it lacks biometric verification, making it a complementary method in many regulatory contexts.
· Document-Based Verification: Users are required to upload documents, which the company then checks. This process entails identifying potential alterations in the documents. Some companies even mandate users to provide a photograph of themselves alongside the submitted documents. Verification of the photograph can be performed manually or automatically.
· Biometric Verification: This method goes beyond conventional online verification. It verifies a customer’s identity by examining biometric data like fingerprints or facial features. Automated biometric checks offer both speed and security, as they can quickly detect any alterations in submitted videos.
In Conclusion Identity verification is a practice that has evolved over millennia. Throughout this journey, the verification process has become increasingly refined, aided by technological advancements in recent decades.
However, these very technological advancements have also enabled fraudsters to develop new methods. Identity verification providers are continually innovating to counteract fraud. Nonetheless, the responsibility falls on companies to remain current with their verification solutions to adhere to regulations and deter criminal activities.