Service NSW Shortlists Face Matching Tech for Identity Verification

Service NSW’s plan to bring face verification technology to its digital channels is progressing, with a shortlist of software options to power liveness detection and facial matching now assembled.

In November, the one-stop-shop for government services went looking for software that customers will eventually use to prove their identity for services that require identity proofing level three (IP3).

IP3 is the highest level of verification expected to be offered under the federal government’s trusted digital identity framework (TDIF) without requiring in-person checks.

The software will allow customers to take a selfie and match it against an on-file identification photo such as from a driver’s licence, with the data to be destroyed as soon as the images are matched.

A spokesperson from Service NSW told that the procurement had progressed to the next stage, but would not disclose the number of shortlisted bidders.

“Following a successful open request for information, Service NSW is reaching out to shortlisted companies to request a quote for photo verification capabilities,”

the spokesperson said.

The capabilities “include two product features including a liveness check... and face matching”, much like those employed in the Australian Taxation Office’s myGovID digital identity app.

Service NSW chief Damon Rees said the planned technology acquisition represented the next step in the government’s digital identity journey.

“Photo verification will enable millions of customers to complete government transactions anywhere, anytime, or authenticate themselves using a photo verification login,”

he said.

“This will provide customers with greater accessibility to government services, especially customers with a disability, time-poor customers and those in rural or regional areas.”

Service NSW plans to use a series of pilot programs to test the software before deployment across its channels and is currently working with the industry to do this.

The facial verification technology will be opt-in and require “ongoing consent” from customers, with existing modes of authentication such as those provided through service centres to remain.

“Customers will be able to control what information they choose to share, and an in-person option will always be provided via Service NSW centres,”

Service NSW said.

Rees said that

“strong privacy and security measures will be built into services to ensure customer information was kept safe”.

The NSW government has its sights set on decentralised credentials that give citizens control of their digital identity.

In December, the government set aside $8.9 million to begin work on a personalised digital wallet to realise this vision.

Earlier this week, the government launched a new website offering additional details on its digital identity program.