As part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series—a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories— Henry Patishman of Regula verifies how to recognize a trustworthy ID verification software solution to protect your most sensitive data.
The ID verification solutions market offers a vast variety of options, which creates the perception of not only market saturation but also of the ability of any solution to check any required documents in all possible scenarios. Be it a KYC procedure, a flight check-in, a medical insurance issue, accessing a bank service, or any other IDV business process, one can find a myriad of seemingly suitable solutions for their purpose and budget.
The questions to ask: how to choose the right solution for your business needs which can handle the breadth, depth, and quality of identity document checks? How to know it’s reliable and trustworthy? And what is trustworthiness when it comes to ID verification?
ID Verification: Recognizing Trustworthy Solutions
ID Verification: Is It Only About Technology?
Modern IDV (identity document verification) software solutions are packed with cutting-edge technologies. Neural networks and AI algorithms take on the task of accurate and speedy recognition of security features and specific elements in IDs. Corresponding technologies help unlock machine-readable details in MRZs (machine-readable zones), barcodes, and RFID chips. OCR (optical character recognition) automates data extraction. And so on.
With all of that said, the technologies on their own are not enough for good ID verification. To prove an identity document’s authenticity or determine it’s a fake, an IDV solution needs to know, down to the smallest detail, what authentic documents should look like—what data fields they have, how this data is recorded, what security elements they contain, what layouts they have, and much more. This detailed information should be available for every single document in the database the IDV solution relies on. Keeping in mind that identity documents are renewed and re-issued pretty often, the database should not only be extensive, but constantly updated as well. Even in just one country, there may be several variants of a single document, depending on the date it was issued.
Furthermore, real IDs are far from being treated like museum artifacts. People use them for years; they take IDs in and out of their pockets and bags multiple times, they travel with documents, and they submit IDs to many other people. Identity documents are rather often bent, torn, and exposed to the sun, water, etc. All this leads to them becoming aged, worn, and weathered, and it definitely impacts their security elements. Good ID verification software should consider this too.
Moreover, some security elements in identity documents aren’t visible to the naked eye (or a camera lens). You need to process them with special lights (infrared, ultraviolet, etc.), magnify the pages, look at them from various angles– and only then will you see those hidden details that tell you about the genuineness of a document. Or its invalidity.
So, even the most sophisticated AI can’t guarantee you quality ID verification if it doesn’t have a solid foundation, i.e., a profound knowledge of every document feature in its database.
From Forensic Labs to Your Smartphone
The logical question is, where to get such knowledge? We believe no one knows identity documents better than forensic experts: people who have been examining thousands of various IDs for years using special hardware and software, such as border control authorities. They have high-class magnifiers, optics, different light sources (ultraviolet, infrared, etc.), and a lot of other professional equipment to thoroughly inspect every tiny detail in an identity document. And they know for sure how to tell a genuine document from a fake one because they have seen every type of document fraud. So, we learned from them.
If an ID verification software provider is in touch with the forensic research in the field of document forgery and forensic hardware manufacturing, it provides them with invaluable insights that help them understand what true ID verification is. It allows the company to analyze countless IDs while developing and tuning its hardware and communicating with forensic experts.
The process of adding IDs to the database and introducing new or enhanced verification techniques usually looks like this: forensic experts start first. They thoroughly investigate the document with the help of the company’s proprietary professional devices: they look at it in different light sources and at various magnifications, and look for and describe all the security features, even the rarest ones and the ones that are hard to find. After the document is examined and analyzed by forensic experts, the ID verification provider implements new checking algorithms in all their solutions, tests them, and rolls out the new information in the document database that backs up its solutions. This approach guarantees quality at every step of the verification process and ensures the fastest innovation time to market.
Another important thing is that all this know-how forms the foundation for the software code. Actually, it’s the same code that empowers the ID verification solutions provider’s software both in forensic devices and your smartphones. In other words, the same IDV software solution that helps border control officers prove the legitimacy and authenticity of documents from all over the world also helps any business build trust with their customers and effectively prevent document fraud.
There is no IDV solution that can read and verify all the existing documents in the world. But there are some that are getting very close to it. This profound knowledge of identity documents gives another advantage—it makes IDV solutions applicable to nearly every country. That means the technology is able to recognize national IDs in national languages, and can be used out of the box in the countries whose documents and languages it supports.
Now let’s take a trip to the vast galaxy of US driver’s licenses. Each of the 50 states in the country has its own variety of driver’s licenses: general, student, with or without work permission, etc. For instance, in California alone, there are five types of driver’s licenses, and each of them has a different format for the birth date: in different places, in different inks. In total, there are more than a thousand US driver’s licenses.
If a vendor is familiar with all of them and has thoroughly examined every sample, its software solutions can easily tell one type from another, read them all and extract the required data (including the category), and inform you whether this particular US driver’s license can be used as an identification document (the reality is that not all of them can be used for the purpose of identifying a person). As you can see, this job is hardly feasible for a human being, but it’s also impractical even for the majority of current IDV solutions.
So wherever your business is, or whatever growth plans you have, with IDV software backed up by forensic expertise and a detailed document database, you can be sure of the accuracy and quality of ID checks, regardless of a document’s type, origin, or language. After all, this is the level of trustworthiness that even border controls are happy with.
- How to Know You Are Dealing With Trustworthy ID Verification Software - November 22, 2022