RealMe is a game-changer for digital identity verification: here’s why

What Is RealMe®? 

There are two services – RealMe login and RealMe verified.

Created to build trust and confidence in digital identity across government and business in New Zealand, the RealMe login service allows users to access multiple services online using one username and password.

Some of the services individuals can use RealMe login to access include:

  • Renewing their passport
  • Logging into their Inland Revenue account
  • Accessing the police vetting system. 

RealMe verified is a fully verified form of digital identity, meaning identities are checked against verified documents held by the NZ Department of Internal Affairs, the entity that owns and manages passports, births, deaths, and marriages documentation. 

Some of the RealMe verified services include:

  • Enrolling to vote
  • Applying for bank accounts
  • Applying for a student loan

For businesses and government entities, RealMe also streamlines and simplifies the identification process. 

“RealMe verified gives government ministries and the commercial sector the ability to verify the identity of someone before they do business with them,” explains CVCheck NZ’s Managing Director, James Sutherland. “They do this through a primary source government department that everyone can trust. RealMe is the only primacy source and trusted ID in NZ.

“Having a RealMe identity isn’t compulsory, but essentially the government is saying, ‘To deal with us, you need to be RealMe verified’. Moving forward we can expect a lot of private organisations to go the same way (adopt RealMe), particularly in terms of reducing recruitment risk.”

To date, 133 services across 38 organisations use RealMe as their login, and 22 services across 17 organisations are now using the verified information provided by the RealMe service. 

Why Was RealMe® Created? 

RealMe was created to solve several pain-points and risks for both individual users and the entities they interact with, making it easier for people and organisations to get things done online securely

RealMe verified’s benefits for individuals include:

  • Convenience: RealMe users no longer have to turn up in person with a passport or driver’s license. The service is 100% digital, which is particularly convenient during a global pandemic. 
  • Verified once: “Verify once, then keep using RealMe when dealing with government ministries and commercial organisations,” says Sutherland. “It’s frustrating having to visit the police or a Justice of the Peace every time you need a copy of your passport or driver’s license certified – RealMe removes the need for that process.” 
  • Get it done on the spot: In the past when individuals attempted to apply for a bank account or student loan, the online application would be placed on hold while the lengthy verification process (often involving postal mail) took place. With RealMe, an individual can complete their transaction end-to-end and verify their identity without any delay. 

As RealMe’s Business Development Manager, John Keene, explains, RealMe enables clients to get immediate fulfilment. “Need to verify your identity? Let’s do it now,” he says. “People don’t want to wait days or have to go offline to complete manual steps like photocopying documents and finding a Justice of the Peace.”

  • Security: With no paperwork needed, RealMe is safer than emailing copies of passports, or allowing organisations to keep identity documentation on file. 

RealMe verified’s benefits for organisations include:

  • Compliance: Identity verification isn’t just good practice. Depending on the sector, government and commercial bodies have to comply with specific laws by which the formal identification of clients and/or customers needs to occur. These include legislation around money laundering and screening for people who work with children, the elderly, and vulnerable adults. 

“Organisations need to know that the person they’re interacting with is who they say they are. Identity credentials come first – once that’s established, then other checks such as criminal, police, working with children, qualifications come next,” says Sutherland.  

  • Better recruitment experience: By streamlining identity verification, RealMe is also making it faster and easier to hire. 

“A clunky or lengthy recruitment process will cause good candidates to drop out,” Sutherland says. “This is why employers are embracing a solution that’s paperless, streamlined, cares about privacy, data security, is good for the client’s employment brand and creates a feeling of trust on both sides.” 

  • Minimise risk: RealMe greatly reduces the risk of identity fraud, hiring unqualified workers, brand damage, danger to employees and customers, and potential financial loss through fines, penalties, and civil cases.
  • Convenience: RealMe removes the need for organisations to develop and maintain their own authentication process.  

How does RealMe® VERIFIED work? 

Sutherland explains that many identity-checking services on the market validate that an identity exists, but fail to link that identity to the person claiming it. 

“Say, for example, that I’m trying to sell a house through a trust. I need to identify myself to the lawyers, so they send me a link to an identification service. The service asks me to take a biometric selfie, and send this along with a copy of my driver’s license and passport. They compare the selfie with these documents, and give the green light – identity confirmed.

“But it isn’t confirmed. Those photos could be doctored. I could be someone else and could have photoshopped my photo into that passport or driver’s license. The entire process is open to identity fraud,” says Sutherland. 

“RealMe verifies identities against official government records at the source – birth certificates, passports and the like – then matches that individual against their photo. This is why ‘verified at source’ is so much more trustworthy.” 

Keene adds that the service establishes uniqueness. “RealMe checks identity across several government sources. They’re authoritative sources, and people trust that there’s rigour behind those databases. With more and more people interacting online, organisations need that level of confidence.”

How are RealMe® identities protected?

Privacy is key. RealMe gives users full ownership of their identity credentials – only they can release them.

“Imagine that I’ve applied to a bank to open a new account. I’ve given them my name and date of birth. The bank then sends a request to RealMe, saying ‘James Sutherland wants to use RealMe to identify himself with us’. RealMe sends a message to me, saying that the bank has requested that you confirm your identity: Do you consent?”

The two key points here in terms of privacy protection are:

1.      Nothing is released by RealMe without the consent of the user.

2.    Only the information that has been consented to will be released (in this case, name and date of birth). This is an improvement on the previous situation in which a photocopy of a drivers’ license gives away several additional pieces of information such as age, gender, and residential address. No extra information means no bias or discrimination. 

How do individuals get a RealMe® verified identity? 

Individuals who want to prove who they are online and access online services with one username and password (i.e. almost everyone) are ideal candidates for a RealMe identity. 

Becoming RealMe verified can be done quickly online, using a New Zealand passport or citizenship certificate. Applicants take their own photo as part of the process. Alternatively, an immigration document or New Zealand birth certificate can be used and the applicant will be asked to provide other forms of ID and get their photo taken at an AA centre or agent. Getting verified is free and once the application and photo is submitted will be confirmed within five working days.

Why should businesses use RealMe®? 

Government and commercial organisations should use RealMe to improve confidence in identity verification, save time, create trust, and comply with legislation where relevant. 

Using RealMe can also save money. “One of the reasons RealMe was created was because the government was going out to several different service providers to obtain identity verification,” explains Keene. “This was slow and quite expensive. We’ve developed a consistent, compliant and robust process that’s standardised the experience and reduced the cost of verification.”

How do CVCheck and RealMe® work together?

 “As CVCheck’s clients know, we’re in the business of verification,” says Sutherland. “That’s why we’ve chosen to undergo 100% tech integration with RealMe. CVCheck is first-to-market in this regard.” 

Employers will soon be able to order RealMe checks through the CVCheck platform. “This might be part of a bundle of checks for a role you’re recruiting for. Perhaps an organisation will require a criminal check and an anti-money-laundering check – it’s different for every role. We push the RealMe report – with the consent of the candidate – into the client’s applicant tracking system. This saves our clients the time and cost of having to integrate with RealMe themselves. They can get primary source identification through CVCheck.”

Images source: RealMe.

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