UK scale-up launches new identity verification technique: turning heads

A UK scaler this week unveiled a novel approach to identity verification: asking users to turn their heads.

Onfido, a University of Oxford spin-out, launched the software amid growing identity fraud. Growing economic pressures, increasing digitization and pandemic-fueled upheaval recently led politicians to warn that an “epidemic of fraud” sweeps across Onfido’s home country of the UK.

Similar developments have been seen around the world. In the United States, for example, around 49 million consumers were victims of identity theft in 2020. costing them in total about $56 billion.

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These trends have triggered a boom in the identity verification market. Increasingly sophisticated fraudsters are also forcing providers to develop more advanced detection methods.

Onfido gave TNW an exclusive demo of their newest entry into the field: a turn-based capture experience dubbed Motion.

Adoption of biometric onboarding has been held back by two key issues. “Active” detection methods, which require users to perform a sequence of gestures in front of a camera, are known to high dropout rates.

“Passive” approaches, on the other hand, remove this friction because they do not require specific user actions, but this often creates uncertainty in the process. A little friction can reassure customers, but too much scares them away.

Motion attempts to address both of these issues. Giulia Di Nola, Onfido’s product manager, told TNW that the company tested more than 50 prototypes before deciding that the headshot offered the best balance.

“We experimented with device movements, different pattern movements, end-user feedback, and worked with our research team,” she said. “It was the sweet spot that we found easy to use, secure enough, and giving us all the signals we needed.”

Onfido works with Check