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The power of mobile telco data in the digital ID proofing process

Our research last year revealed that at least six million people in the UK are ‘ID Challenged’. This means that they struggle to prove who they are in order to access the products and services they are entitled to – in both the private and public sectors. 

Digital ID is rapidly being rolled out by all sectors as the primary way to access those services. The UK government, for example, recently announced that eight government departments are now using its digital ID platform, GOV.UK One Login, with ‘the vast bulk’ of government set to be onboarded over the next 18 months.

The challenge, however, is that existing processes to set up a digital ID largely depend on an individual having traditional ID documents, such as a passport or driving licence. There is also a large dependence on the use of existing data sources, such as online banking and non-bank credit accounts. 

Yet there are millions of people who do not have a passport or a driving licence, or access to online services, and so will struggle to set up a digital ID. If they can’t validate or verify themselves for these services, they will continue to be excluded from them. 

A ‘forgotten’ dataset

Our work at OIX has been focused on driving developments in digital ID adoption to ensure inclusion is easily achieved for everyone that wants a digital ID, and alternative options are in place for those who don’t. 

One of the things we have identified is the significant value that can be derived from including mobile telco data. While it is widely available on the market, it has simply not been considered for use in the ID proofing process. Why? Because on its own, the value of mobile telco data is limited. It does not score as high in the GPG45 model, compared to data from banks, credit reference agencies or government. However, when combined with these and other datasets it becomes extremely valuable, enabling greater levels of inclusion for parts of the population who currently struggle. 

For example, in the ID proofing process an individual’s name, address, phone number, how long an account has been open and whether it is active, can be validated against the mobile telco records. The differentiating factor, however, is the ability to send an SMS through the telco provider’s own system to the individual’s validated phone with a one-time code. This enables ‘dynamic’ Knowledge Based Verification (KBV) of that individual.  

Our belief is that this data has the potential to help improve access for millions of people in the UK. As such, we recently released a paper detailing exactly how we see telco proofing techniques being used in the context of GPG45, as well as in the context of AML ID proofing. 

Bringing telco mobile data into the fold 

We are urging all digital ID service providers, and any organisation that plans to carry out ID proofing themselves, to think about leveraging this forgotten data and combining it with their existing datasets. This data is out there already. It can be easily accessed through aggregators or telcos, and it can be used to move people up to medium or high in terms of GPG45 scoring. 

For organisations that will come to accept digital credential and who will have to meet inclusion needs, we are urging them seek out those digital ID service providers that use a wider range of data sources and documents to ensure such inclusion needs are indeed met. 


We need to ensure people can prove who they are and get access to the products and services they are entitled to. Bringing the large proportion of the population that continues to be excluded into the fold will not only benefit those who are ‘ID challenged’, but enable private and public sector organisations to onboard a larger number of genuine customers more easily. In this instance, mobile telco data could play a key role and would be a quick win. 

There are a number of things – that OIX has either being working on or pushing for - that need to happen in the UK in order to enable digital ID inclusion. In addition to leveraging more new data sources and bringing them into the ecosystem, as outlined in this blog, they include: 

  • Leveraging alternative proofing techniques, such as the digital vouching that we have been urging governments and trust framework creators around the world to implement. It is a process that involves a person who is already trusted legally, vouching for another individual they have known for some time, but who is struggling to prove who they are.
  • Ensuring there are inclusive access points for everyone. This means that there will need to be digital ID providers, who specialise specifically in inclusion issues.
  • Encouraging sector focused schemes to be inclusive, so that it is driven through their membership networks and the ID providers they engage with.
  • Leveraging government data sources when they are made available through the GPDI Bill.  





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