Free Demo
  • Linkedin
  • Twitter
  • Youtube

Connect with a Daon solutions expert

Let us know how we can assist you

  • Product/Solution Information
  • Product Demonstration
  • Request for Proposal
  • Partnership Opportunities

See why many of the world’s strongest brands chose Daon to help them build lasting trust with their customers.

Meeting The Challenge of Digital Poverty in the UK: How Relying Parties Can Help

The UK-based Digital Poverty Alliance defines digital poverty as “the inability to interact with the online world fully, when, where, and how an individual needs to.” According to the 2023 UK Consumer Digital Index and Essential Digital Skills Report from Lloyd’s Bank, “2.1 million people in the UK are offline, and c.4.7 million people cannot connect to Wi-Fi, impacting their everyday lives.”

Ofcom, the regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, has found that the groups least likely to have home internet access are those over age 65, lower income households, and the most financially vulnerable.  According to the 2023 “Connecting the Countryside” study commissioned by Vodafone UK and with analysis from WPI economics, the poorest rural areas are missing out on digital connectivity. In March 2024, The Guardian reported on research that revealed how “almost half of UK families lack the online skills or access to devices, data and broadband required to participate in today’s digital society.”

Not being able to take advantage of online, commercial, and government services can have a direct impact on the quality of peoples’ lives. In its article “No internet, no opportunities: Addressing the challenges of digital exclusion in the UK,” Big Issue writes, “Offline people on low incomes have fewer opportunities to increase their incomes or get debt support, while those forced to rely on others to navigate online tasks on their behalf lose independence.”

Digital poverty also reduces the ability of those who live in areas without a convenient physical bank branch – the number of which have fallen by 60%, from 14,689 in 1986 to 5,745 in 2023 – to participate in the financial system. It limits them to the selection and prices in retail shops that are a reasonable distance from their home. Digital poverty also reduces access to online health information, telehealth services, digital health records, and healthcare applications.

Digital poverty impacts society at large. In June 2023, the Communications and Digital Committee of the House of Lords published HL219, a study on digital exclusion. It noted that digital exclusion has “profound consequences for individual wellbeing and multi-billion pound implications for UK productivity, economic growth, public health, levelling up, education and net-zero objectives.”

Digital poverty is also a topic of concern for business. In the retail sector alone, online sales constituted 26.9% of all sales in August 2023. Statista forecasts that e-commerce revenue in the UK will grow from US $131.5 billion in 2023 to US $185.37 billion in 2028.

While government, organizations including the Digital Poverty Alliance and the Good Things Foundation, and internet providers all work to alleviate the larger aspects of the digital divide over the remainder of this decade, there are actions that relying parties can take now to enable more digitally challenged consumers to benefit from their products and services.

This is particularly true for reaching people who the Digital Poverty Alliance identify as having a “soft exclusion,” meaning people who have internet access and have a device/devices but lack a fast or reliable connection; people who have access and a device/devices but remain offline because they lack essential digital skills (EDS); people who have internet access and EDS but are smartphone-only users; and people who have access, a device/devices, and EDS, but struggle with the affordability of services.

Difficulty and lack of trust are underlying issues

The same Ofcom report found that 46% of adults who remain offline say they find the internet too complicated and that 60% of people without home internet access had asked someone to do something online for them in the past year. Most often, this online task was buying something.

The Lloyd’s Bank study notes, “Complicated products, services and experiences are a barrier for the offline.” It continues, “Yet fear of fraud is a concern for both those online and offline.”

Navigating life online can be complex, time-consuming, and, if it’s being done via a smartphone or other device with data use limitations, costly. Simplifying the experience of using digital services can overcome these challenges and encourage more people to move online or to expand their use.

The place where increased complexity, spiraling cost, and security fears intersect is with passwords. Ideally, every user has a different password that’s a complex string of 12 or more characters for each application, site, or service they want to use. But the reality is different, with Speedster IT reporting that 60% of people in the UK use passwords that can be easily guessed, with only 30% of passwords being more than 8 characters long and 10% of people using the same passwords for all their accounts.

One reason for these suboptimal password practices is that forgetting a password requires both time and expense to reset it. According to the London Daily News, a study by ExpressVPN found that, “On average, it takes Brits three minutes and 45 seconds to reset a single password.” Additionally, it reported that 50% of UK citizens have to change passwords at least once a month, which can increase both the cost and reluctance of digitally impoverished users to spend time online.

These password habits also leave companies vulnerable, even if they successfully secure their own customer and account information database against breaches. When 91% of all passwords found in data breaches are weak and 50% of hackers can gain access to systems with weak credentials within 2 minutes, no business that stores login credentials is safe. As the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) wrote in its “Passwords in online services” article, “The risk here is that if one service suffers a personal data breach and access credentials are compromised, these can be tested against other online services to gain access – a technique known as ‘credential stuffing.’”

Protection of customer data is regulated by the UK GDPR and DPA 2018. The ICO notes, “For serious breaches of the data protection principles, we have the power to issue fines of up to £17.5 million or 4% of your annual worldwide turnover, whichever is higher.”

Between ease of use for customers and the increasing costs of a potential data breach, many companies are choosing to rely on third parties, such as Google and Facebook, to authenticate their users.

When a customer arrives at the website or service (the relying party), they are presented a choice of third-party providers. They choose the provider they already have an account with, log in with that provider, and consent to sharing their authenticated identity with the relying party. The third-party authenticator provides a token back to the relying party that allows them to access the customer’s information and grant access.

This arrangement benefits both the customer and the business. The customer has only one password to remember for all the applications, sites, and services that offer authentication through the third-party provider where they have an account. This streamlines access to their accounts and services, and reduces minutes wasted online performing resets and other password tasks. Since the customer credentials stay with the third-party authenticator, the business must no longer securely store login credentials or provide password reset and other related services to customers.

But security is still an issue if the third-party authentication relies on passwords that can be lost, forgotten, stolen, and hacked. As the ICO asks in its article, “Are passwords the best choice?” The answer is, resoundingly: No.

Increasing security and ease with biometric authentication

Biometric authentication solutions avoid the security and login/reset issues associated with passwords, in addition to simplifying access for people with disabilities by allowing customers to confirm their identity with a physical, immutable characteristic.

When the customer opens their account, or onboards, with the third-party authenticator, they present the characteristic, such as a fingerprint, and a template is created. Each time they return, the template is compared against the live fingerprint they press against a key on their phone or computer. The template contains only enough information to recognize the customer in conjunction with the live factor and cannot be used alone by hackers to access accounts – even if they breach the database.

To provide the broadest access, a variety of factors can be used for authentication. In addition to fingerprints, these include:

Biometric facial recognition involves a customer simply taking a selfie of their face during onboarding and each time they return to the relying party. Liveness detection protects against the use of previously taken photos and image captures.

Biometric voice recognition software works, depending on the solution, by having a customer speak a set phrase or having their voice recognized as they speak freely to an agent. Modern solutions equipped with AI can distinguish between authentic voices and attempts to spoof the system.

Behavioural biometrics
Each person has a unique pattern in the way they type on a keyboard or touch a mobile keypad, swipe between screens, roll a mouse, or perform other activities – like walking (gait). A template is created from this pattern and a returning customer is seamlessly recognized as they type, touch, swipe, or roll.

Expand digital literacy and access with Daon

Daon’s portfolio of authentication solutions is designed with flexibility in mind. Relying parties can integrate the ease and security of biometrics into their existing infrastructure, or let Daon’s customer success team handle the transition over to our futureproof solutions. Our digital identity management products combine the security necessary to meet the regulatory requirements of even the strictest industries (like financial services, telecom, and healthcare) with the ease-of-use needed to compete in today’s market and to satisfy the needs of customers at many different levels of digital fluency.

Learn more about how you can combat digital poverty and support the needs of every customer with our identity solutions.