HM Land Registry Digital ID Standard: How Thirdfort meets it


HM Land Registry’s Digital ID Standard was announced 12th March 2021. If followed, this standard means HM Land Registry will not pursue any conveyancer in any recourse claim resulting from the registration of a fraudulent transaction on the grounds that identity checks were inadequate. The standard is set to benefit conveyancers and consumers alike by encouraging the digitalisation of the conveyancing process and providing much needed clarity over regulations. So, the all-important question: how does Thirdfort meet this new standard?

Requirement 1) Obtain evidence from the client 

This requirement is about finding out if the person you are representing is who they say they are.

To meet this requirement, conveyancers must obtain from the client a form of evidence that includes security features, like a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, that can be interrogated to extract information. These security features must also include an electronically held photo of the identity against which biometric facial recognition checks may be made. This can be a biometric passport, identity card or UK biometric residence permit.  

How Thirdfort meets this requirement

In our new Standard ID check (that meets the HM Land Digital ID Standard), we will request use of a Passport as evidence of ID. To make sure the client’s passport is capable of meeting this requirement, the information contained in the MRZ code of the passport will be checked to determine its status as to whether it is a biometric passport.

Requirement 2) Check that this evidence is genuine 

Conveyancers must verify that the evidence they obtain from a client is current and isn’t forged. This can be done by using a Digital Identity Check provider like Thirdfort – this will check that the security features of the evidence are genuine.  

Now, here's the important part: the identity check provider's system must read the chip within the evidence using Near Field Communication (the tech that reads your passport at an airport gate) by providing any required cryptographic (coded) keys. By scanning an NFC chip, the provider will be able to match a digital signature to the organisation that issued the ID (e.g the Government) and extract biometric information from the evidence supplied by the client. When scanned, the NFC chip will also check that a ‘signing key’ belongs to the organisation that issued the ID, and hasn’t been tampered with.

How Thirdfort meets this requirement

As mentioned in Requirement #1, Thirdfort’s coming ID offering will, like our current product, verify documentary and cryptographic security features in ID documents to make sure they’re genuine. 

We won’t stop here, though. Our new Standard ID check will include Near Field Communication (NFC) chip reading to scan a chip in a user’s ePassport. A key point to emphasise here also is that Thirdfort, unlike other NFC products in the legal space currently, will check the digital signature AND signing key attached to a document to make sure it is a government-issued ID.  

Requirement 3) Make sure the evidence matches the client 

Conveyancers must make sure the person presenting the evidence matches the photo on the documents gathered. This must be done using a Digital Identity Check provider, so that the biometric information gathered using the NFC chip can be matched with a ‘liveness test’. What exactly is a ‘liveness test’?  

A ‘liveness test’ uses photographs or video (captured live during the ID checking process) to verify that the person taking the check is real. For this to meet the ‘Digital ID Standard’, the Digital Identity Check provider needs to also ensure this image/video is captured under controlled quality conditions (i.e., controlled light/noise). The ID provider also must have a false match rate of below 0.01% and use a biometric algorithm that’s proven to be effective against a recognised benchmark, like the National Institute of Standard and Technology’s (NIST’s) face recognition vendor test guidance. 

How Thirdfort meets this requirement

We have partnered with Digital ID Provider iProov (who have use cases including the NHS and UK Home Office) to use their Genuine Presence Assurance (GPA) capability to perform the enhanced ‘liveness’ test. iProov’s GPA technology will be embedded within our NFC-enabled app journey to assure the Genuine Presence of the individual. This includes face matching (to assure that the person matches the evidence provided), liveness (to be assured that they are a real person, and not presented imagery such as a mask, photo, or video), and assurance that the person is present in real-time (and not a digital replay attack or ‘deepfake’). 

iProov’s methodology for capturing users’ biometrics is optimised for accessibility, applicability, and usability. To achieve the high performance rates that iProov experiences, the capture of high-quality imagery, in the form of the ‘flashmark’ video, is crucial. iProov monitors the conditions of the user video and provides feedback to the user to maximise the chances of success, also allowing multiple attempts for the user as standard. iProov is also fully accredited by the National Institute of Standard and Technology.

Requirement 4) Obtain evidence to ensure the transferor, borrower or lessor is the same person as the owner

 This requirement needs to be met by a conveyancer representing a transferor, borrower or lessor.

The conveyancer must connect the client to the property by obtaining two examples from the following list of evidence types and checking that the name and address of the person claiming the identity match those on the evidence provided:

  • Utility bill, bank or building society statement, dated within the last three months

  • Local authority council tax bill for the current financial year

  • Original mortgage statement from a recognised lender for the last full year

  • Current UK or EEA photocard driving licence

  • HMRC self-assessment letters or tax demands dated within the current financial year

  • Insurance policy schedule for the property

  • Current firearm or shotgun certificate

  • Credit card bearing the Mastercard or Visa logo, an American Express or Diners Club card, or a debit or multi-function card bearing the Maestro or Visa logo which was issued in the United Kingdom and is supported by an account statement less than three months old.

  • Copy of the agreement for purchase of the property

  • Lettings agent agreement on headed paper

  • Local authority buildings regulations sign off for works undertaken to the property addressed to the client

  • Management company service charge demands for the property addressed to the client.

The statements referred to in the list above can be postal or online statements. Reliance can be placed on an online statement provided that it has been received or downloaded by the client and refers to the subject property. Screenshots of online statements will not satisfy the Digital ID Standard.

How Thirdfort meets this requirement

Thirdfort’s document upload feature enables users to quickly and easily upload evidence of ownership via our user-friendly app. 

We have been working with HM Land Registry to raise the compliance level of our ID check. Available from early May, our most secure ID check will incorporate Government-grade security to not only set the quality bar even higher and meet HM Land Registry’s Digital ID Standard (Safe Harbour).

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