A new digital user experience via GOV.Verify

The online environment has evolved rapidly in the last 16 years from when Government Gateway first began. Users now have a whole new set of expectations when it comes to the internet.

Nowadays social media and online shopping are a daily habit. The power of brands like Amazon, Facebook and MoneySupermarket has changed user experiences dramatically and continues to do so.

Amazon allows one click buying with its subscription service delivery times have been reduced to overnight or same-day delivery. When picking products you’re now given reviews and examples of similar products bought by other customers. This was unimaginable 16 years ago.

Facebook allows you to customise the news you see, it has a chat service and gives you the option of creating events, re-posting memories in the form of past status postings, and the options are ever increasing.

Comparison sites with the breadth of information that MoneySupermarket provides did not exist 16 years ago. Nowadays using a comparison site to change for example a utility provider has become commonplace whereas before that kind of digital competition was not possible.

These are just three examples of how digital user journeys with their personalisation and ease of use have become a standard. The Government must recreate a similar experience for public sector services to keep apace with private sector.

Now it’s possible to book a flight on your commute, switch electricity providers in a lunchtime and to video call your friends abroad using an online messaging service. The private sector rapid progress has bought into question the ease and personalisation of Government Gateway user experiences. Whereas previously just being able to use a service online was the most anyone expected.

Principally Government Gateway requires citizens to register for different online services separately. The process usually involved receiving a code through the post and having half revealed online. There is also a separate user ID. All a bit cumbersome. Citizen blogger Paul Clarke neatly sums it up as being, “not quite a seamless electronic transaction”. Nowadays anything that isn’t as easy as one-click shopping is going to be questioned by consumers who are accustomed to easy-to-use systems.

Clarke points out that the reliance on the post is a hindrance especially in the lead up up to the self assessment deadline January 31st. He says, “In the days leading up to Jan 31st the post seems to move very slowly indeed. And you might lose that 12-digit number in the meantime”. The fragmented aspect of registration seems particularly antiquated.

Issues with Government Gateway were also raised by the National Audit Office (NAO) who said: ‘”The Government Gateway provides only limited levels of identity assurance and, without further investment, its weaknesses will be increasingly exposed and under attack. Extending the gateway’s life will delay the delivery of the digital by default agenda which needs higher levels of identity assurance.”

No sooner had these issues been raised that the Financial Times newspaper suggested the Government Gateway had been hacked. It pointed at profiles containing information shared by HM Revenues and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions as being compromised. However as reported by website government computing the government rejected that there had been a widespread breach of its online system. The story highlighted how the system was vulnerable.

With user experience having changed drastically along with weaknesses highlighted by the NAO, Government Gateway is long overdue a change to be brought up-to-date. This brings us to GOV.UK Verify the new secure identity authentication service allowing citizens to access public sector online services. The UK government strives to move with the technology market and keep a digital first mindset. GOV.UK Verify has most importantly introduced competition to the secure identity market by allowing citizens to choose from nine verification services.

Each verification service provider has been approved by the government. As citizens now have nine companies to choose from, it is in the best interests of everyone to provide the most full-proof secure service possible. At SecureIdentity we have over 20 years experience in providing secure identities to governments, institutions and security services. We just haven’t been customer facing so our parent company Morpho is one you may not have heard of.

GOV.UK Verify allows citizens to register once with their chosen provider. Once authenticated, citizens can sign into any number of online government services. This has been seen as providing added security as reported in www.V3.co.uk, “Information is not stored centrally, and there’s no unnecessary sharing of information. The company you choose doesn’t know which service you’re trying to access, and the government department doesn’t know which company you choose.”

SecureIdentity makes proving your identity easy with a simple sign-in app that even gives you the option of using a selfie to sign into services. We are continuously innovating, it’s why we have remained in the market for the last two decades. And we look forward to helping citizens authenticate their identities through GOV.UK Verify.