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UK scale-up pioneers new ID verification technique: turning heads

A UK scale-up unveiled an industry first for identity verification this week: users are asking to turn their heads.

onfido, a spinout from the University of Oxford, launched the software amid rising identity theft. Increasing economic pressure, increasing digitization and pandemic-fueled upheaval recently led politicians to warn that a “fraud epidemic” spreads across Onfido’s homeland, the UK.

Similar developments have been observed all over the world. In the US, for example, in 2020, approximately 49 million consumers were victims of identity fraud cost them in total about $56 billion.

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These trends have been triggered a boom in the identity verification market. Increasingly sophisticated fraudsters are also forcing providers to develop more sophisticated detection methods.

onfido gave TNW an exclusive demo of their new entry into the field: a head-turn capture experience called Motion.

The adoption of biometric onboarding has been held back by two major issues. “Active” detection methods, which ask users to perform a series of gestures in front of a camera, are notorious for their high abandonment rates.

“Passive” approaches remove this friction because they do not require specific user actions, but this often creates uncertainty about the process. A little friction can reassure customers, but too much puts them off.

Motion tries to solve both problems. Giulia Di Nola, an Onfido product manager, told TNW that the company tested more than 50 prototypes before deciding that head-turn capture offers the best balance.

“We’ve been experimenting with device gestures, different pattern movements, end-user feedback and working with our research team,” she said. “This was the sweet spot that we felt was easy to use, safe enough and gives us all the signals we needed.”

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