Backlogs in issuing official ID documents such as passports and driving licences have driven a surge of interest in remote, document-free electronic ID verification, according to anti-money laundering (AML) specialist SmartSearch.

Both the Passport Office and the DVLA have advised customers of significant delays in issuing new IDs or renewing existing documents, due to reduced capacity during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Firms required to verify the identity of their customers and perform due diligence report that this has impacted on their ability to onboard new customers or conduct significant transactions on behalf of existing ones, on the basis of ID that is close to or past its expiry date.

John Dobson SmartSearch

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For SmartSearch’s know your customer (KYC) and AML solution all that is needed is a name, address and date-of-birth to conduct a full set of AML checks, including screening against global sanctions and politically-exposed persons (PEP) lists.

John Dobson, chief executive of SmartSearch, said: “The backlogs at the Passport Office and DVLA are further indications of the way we’re all having to think again about how we conduct business in the wake of COVID-19.

“Earlier this week, the presenter of BBC Breakfast read out a comment from a viewer, saying that it’s impossible to buy a house without a valid passport. Thankfully, that isn’t the case.

“SmartSearch provides an easy way for firms to circumvent these problems – while also making the onboarding and KYC process quicker and simpler for both staff and customers.

“The advantages of electronic ID verification are clear, with or without COVID-19. It’s high time firms of all shapes and sizes embraced the benefits of going digital.”