Markets are complex, with many moving parts and participants of various types. The Digital Identity market is no exception. Maintaining order in such complex systems almost always requires oversight of some type, and as a result, market oversight organisations are commonplace.

Whatever the shape of the overseeing organisation, the roles they play tend to be very similar:

  • To ensure the market operates in an open, transparent manner
  • To protect participants, and consumers
  • To ensure technical interoperability, and that standards are followed

As the market in digital identity continues to emerge, the question arises: does the UK digital identity market need an oversight organisation, and if so, what should its shape and role be?

To answer this, we gathered information from a range of similar organisations operating in a range of UK markets, from the financial services organisations listed above, to Gemserv, Nominet and others.  This gave us a view of the types of roles they undertake, their structure and governance, their sources of funding and membership models, as well as their origin and route to maturity.

These findings were tested amongst a group of regulators, government representatives and private sector associations, to test whether what we had discovered could guide oversight of the digital identity ecosystem.

This resulted in a ‘blueprint’ for how an oversight organisation might emerge, its form and function, and the role it needs to play in the market:

  1. First and foremost, the organisation would ideally be formed in partnership between the private sector and government.
  2. Initial funding should also come from both public and private sector, while over time membership fees and other revenue streams can become self-sustaining.
  3. The oversight organisation’s primary function should be to shape a trust framework which reflects market conditions and needs.
  4. While the development of standards is not considered a key role for the organisation itself, recognising and undertaking equivalency analysis and forming an interoperability framework for standards is vital, alongside producing accessible guidance to help participants.
  5. The organisation need not be large – maintaining a slim, minimally necessary functional layer should be the aim, particularly at the outset.

At a time when the Government is still considering the role it needs to play in forming the digital identity market, the message to Government seems clear – market oversight and interoperability are vital. This is not something that should be addressed by government  alone.  A partnership between public and private interests was felt by all participants to be the preferred route.

 

Author

Ewan Willars, Innovate Identity

 

The OIX will be undertaking a series of engagements, including a roundtable discussion, to explore the implications of the report with stakeholders.


Please read the Whitepaper HERE