LibraryblogWhat is identity verification? And why is it necessary?

What is identity verification? And why is it necessary?

Identity verification ensures that there is a real person behind a process and proves that they are who they claim to be. This prevents anyone from carrying out a process on other people's behalf without authorization, creating false identities, or committing fraud.

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Chris Hooper
Director of Content at
May 5, 2020
Identity verification
Identity Verification

Identity verification ensures that there is a real person behind a process and proves that they are who they claim to be. This prevents anyone from carrying out a process on other people's behalf without authorization, creating false identities, or committing fraud.

Identity verification has been around for thousands of years, with one of the earliest recorded ‘passports’ being created in 1414 by King Henry V. Clearly that wasn’t important enough to make it into Shakespeare’s play. 

Understandably though, documents have gone through quite the evolution since then. What were once single sheets of paper are now indispensable items often containing electronic chips with all of our necessary data.

For most people, the ID document they’re normally carrying daily is their driver’s licence, as you normally only need a passport when you’re going abroad. And it’s not often that you’re asked to use either to prove you are who you say you are. As examples you might need an ID when:

  • You travel abroad
  • You open a bank account
  • You start a new job
  • You buy a property
  • You apply for a licence or certification
  • You look a bit too young to be buying that wine

This list could go on for a while, but the reality is that apart from going abroad, everything on the above list can now be done online (yes, even the wine). And for businesses, identity verification is required for challenges on the opposite side, things like:

  • Know-your-customer (KYC) & Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Compliance
  • Fraud Prevention
  • Age Verification
  • Identity Verification
  • User Onboarding

And there are scores of other reasons. But how do you possibly prove who you are, or that you’re over 18, when you’re not in the room with the person, or business, you’re attempting to prove it to? This is where identity verification and Veriff come in.

How to verify your identity

The basic process of identity verification is producing a document confirming who you are, potentially your age, and your nationality or citizenship. In the past, this would be done in person, normally after some amount of queueing or at a scheduled appointment.

However, now so much of our life is online, we’re being asked to prove our identity more regularly, and the easier this is, the happier we are. People may scream about the lost nature of trust, but you can read about so many types of online fraud, that you’ll quickly appreciate why verifying your identity is absolutely crucial.

So how does Veriff verify your identity? Here’s the basic process:

  • We ask you to take a photo of your ID document (normally a driver’s license, passport or ID card) either with your webcam or smartphone - it’s a live process
  • We ask you to take a quick selfie with the same device
  • That’s it.

Yep. Two steps. We even offer advice while you’re taking the selfie to make sure you get it perfect on the first try. And you’ll receive a decision in seconds - if everything is in order you’re verified. And if you’re committing fraud, well, weird that you’re reading this blog at all, but anyway you’re denied.

Why do we need it?

As much as we like to have faith in humanity, and it is mighty important, not everyone is honest. And in a world where we make transactions on an almost daily basis with faceless websites and apps, it’s important to know who’s legit.

When you buy something online, you might do a quick Google and check that the site has reviews elsewhere showing it to be trustworthy. It’s why eBay and Amazon both have ratings for sellers and products, and AirBnB offers similar for renters and home-owners. You need to be able to trust in what you’re paying for, and people need to trust that you’re a legitimate customer.

So a crucial element to this two-way relationship is verification on both sides. Businesses might have a licence, or logos on their homepage to prove they’re trustworthy, and you get verified to prove you are. And as verification gets better, trust begins to build, because the dishonest people can’t trick anyone anymore. We all win.

What about Veriff?

Well, as is obvious, identity verification is our bread and butter. This is what we do, and we’re proud to say we’re pretty damn good at it. But it’s how we do it that’s special.

We use machine learning and artificial intelligence to help make our system as automated as possible. This results in accurate decisions in mere moments. We’re also incredibly wise to the security challenges of the modern world, meaning data is always safe with us. We won’t be losing it, and we’ll never be selling it.

We partner up with businesses who want to work with honest people, and help them make sure that’s the case. And we’re in it for the long haul - making constant improvements for all of the businesses we work with, so they have the best possible verification process for them. One size fits all doesn’t work when it comes to this.

We foresee a world where people have more control over their data, who sees it, and where it’s made available. This is a cornerstone of our ambitions, but that’s another story for another day. For now, we hope you have a clearer view of what identity verification is and why it’s needed. If you’re interested in Veriff then check out our social media channels - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram - or reach out to, we’re happy to chat.

“Once more unto the breach - as long as you’ve all got your passports? Yes? Good.”