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Idealog—in the ideas business

It’s the RealMe, honest

New online service RealMe has a lofty goal: reducing the headache associated with dealing with multiple organisations across both private and public sectors.

It's designed to streamline interactions with agencies from central and local authorities to private sector agencies and corporates such as insurance, telecommunications and power companies – subject to the passing of the Electronic Identity Verification Bill, which is currently before Parliament – by proving your identity.

RealMe was unveiled at the 2012 Identity Conference in Wellington today by the Department of Internal Affairs and New Zealand Post, who are partnering to make the new service available.

New Zealand Post’s Mandy Smith says setup will be a simple process, requiring a visit to show appropriate ID and have a photo taken. New Zealand Post will then pass that information on to the Department of Internal Affairs for verification.

Once a consumer has a verified RealMe account they can then prove who they are online for organisations offering services such as the census, bank accounts, government benefits, passports, registering to vote and obtaining and renewing licences.

The government already has a single sign-on system called igovt, and those logons can be upgraded to a RealMe account.

Internal Affairs identity and data services general manager Peter MacKenzie said RealMe would not form a centralised bank of data. Individuals would be in control of their information, which would only be accessed or aggregated when pulled together from sources as and when required. Users will also be able to see what data has been shared, with whom, and when.

“Organisations will be able to offer more online services using RealMe, safe in the knowledge that the person is who they say they are," he said.

“The ability to securely verify each user’s identity and other information, such as their address, opens a world of possibilities for more services to be provided online."

Many of those services would be things that currently require the consumer to physically front up with documentation at the offices of each agency, he said.

Those organisations are yet to be named.

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Often in “serious” situations we would want organisations to trust the information we give about ourselves. But given how easy it is to mask your true identity in the virtual world, organisations may require more troublesome verification methods. RealMe is certainly an interesting solution that will greatly benefit both parties.

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