The government will consider whether to grant expanded access to the electoral roll and the ASIC register in order to assist FinTechs in conducting digital identity checks.
As part of its second report, the government-led Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology investigated the rollout of the digital identity scheme and the ability for companies to access relevant information from government registers to do identity verification services.
The committee recommended that the government should review the current arrangements to “see whether any changes or improvements are necessary”, with a specific focus on whether companies should be able to better access electoral roll and ASIC information for this purpose.
“FinTechs are concerned that accessing data from sources such as the AEC roll and ASIC registers for the purpose of facilitating identity checks is expensive and unwieldy, relative to the access regimes available in other comparable jurisdictions,” the committee said in its report.
“Government should review these arrangements and see whether any changes or improvements are necessary.”
FinTechs are currently able to access Australian Electoral Commission data for the purpose of conducting Know Your Customer (KYC) checks under Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Legislation.
This data is provided exclusively to only two companies – Equifax and Illion – which then charge companies $1.20 per check to access it. In the UK, the equivalent process costs only 0.30 pounds.
Industry advocacy body FinTech Australia told the committee this “reduces competition and increases prices”.
Accessing information on the ASIC registry can also cost between $10 and $20, which is “comparably high” to other jurisdictions.
“As this is held in government registries some have expressed a view that it should be more readily and cheaply made available,” Fintech Australia told the committee.
The organisation argued that the AEC should provide access to the electoral roll for all companies that pass its own security verification in order to conduct the KYC checks, and that ASIC should give access to more information brokers to bring the prices down.
In response, the AEC said the price charged by the two organisations is a commercial decision, and that it would be concerned about the privacy implications of making the data more widely available to companies.
“The broad provision and use of the electoral roll is contrary to Parliament’s view that the electoral roll should primarily be used for the purposes of conducting elections and referendums,” the AEC told the committee.
“The AEC is cognisant of privacy concerns, as well as the broader issue of potential loss of confidence in the AEC or in the enrolment and the electoral process more generally if electors become concerned about how their data may be shared.”
ASIC said that companies can search directly through its platform or through information brokers and that the price of doing so is a matter for government.
The end goal of the government’s digital identity scheme is to establish a federated ecosystem with a range of public and private digital identity offerings which can be used to access a range of services.
Eftpos recently became the first private company to apply for accreditation under the scheme. Legislation facilitating the expansion of the digital identity scheme to the private sector is currently the subject of a consultation process.