Government-backed online identity verification system - 'RealMe' ready to go
From this week, New Zealanders can begin signing up for RealMe - the only online identity verification service backed by the New Zealand government.
Instead of waiting in line with paper identity documents each time they want a service requiring ID from a government or private sector organisation, people will soon be able to prove their identity online with RealMe and apply for services from home.
People can create a RealMe login online – which allows them to use one username and password to access participating government and private sector websites using the RealMe service. The RealMe service becomes truly powerful when the user completes a one-off identity verification process (involving a visit to a PostShop), after which they will be able to use their verified RealMe account online to apply for services from participating organisations online.
The RealMe service is free of charge to individuals and re-verification is only required once every five years, says David Philp, General Manager Identity and Data Services for the Department of Internal Affairs.
“The Department and New Zealand Post are working together to give customers a smart, secure, easy-to-use service which enables them to prove who they are online and access services, via a RealMe verified account.
RealMe also makes it easier for government agencies to play their part in achieving the Government’s target of enabling New Zealanders to do more online. Thirteen government agencies currently use RealMe login to offer 43 services across central and local government.”
RealMe spokesperson Mandy Smith says that “a verified RealMe account will, over time, allow people to fully access services online. Currently they have to physically visit the offices of organisations and show photo ID to get some services. A verified RealMe account will enable the provision of services online to truly grow enabling the digital economy.”
The RealMe team are currently signing up a number of organisations with specific focus on the banking and finance sector, given the AML/CFT Act’s ‘know your customer’ requirements that have recently come into force. In the medium to long term, the goal is to grow widespread use across all sectors where digital identity is needed to improve customer experience, meet customer digital preferences and reduce costs.
By completing the verified RealMe account requirements now early adopters – including anyone who holds one of the over 970,000 RealMe logins (previously the igovt logon) – will be ready when major services come on-stream in the months ahead.
Mandy Smith commented "a verified RealMe account gives individuals control over the identity information they share with government agencies or private sector companies when they are applying for a government or private sector service. The RealMe service does not hold any of the verified information, it simply enables you to share it securely."
“A verified RealMe account will, in effect vouch for you online – that you are who you say you are – when you want to access participating services.”
Strict processes are in place – including regular reviews – to ensure that the privacy of information about individuals held by member organisations is preserved at all times.
RealMe leverages the strengths of the two organisations behind it - the Department of Internal Affairs and New Zealand Post.
New Zealand Post has more than 170 years’ experience in managing and co-ordinating huge amounts of information - and their primary role in RealMe will be through the PostShop network serving as the place in the community where people can have a biometric photograph taken which ties their actual identity to their RealMe username and password and provide documentation if required.
The Department of Internal Affairs will take that information, check it and verify that the person is who they say they are – a complex task, but one which is similar in many ways to the role the Department of Internal Affairs has played for so many years when processing passport applications.
RealMe will not allow New Zealand Post or the Department of Internal Affairs to see or access the information on individuals held by organisations which use RealMe as their verification system. It simply serves as an authentication and identity verification tool, and will not track any data or activities carried out by members once its function (of providing verified information) is completed.
No personal identity information will be held by New Zealand Post, and all information collected for the identity verification process will be handed to the Department of Internal Affairs.