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Video identification and its legal probative validity

It saves costs and time, allowing companies to continue advancing in their digitization

Original article published in CincoDías on the 25th of August 2022
Signed by Javier Bustillo, General Director of Víntegris

Video identification or identification by videoconference was authorized for the first time in Spain on March 1st, 2016, for certain banking operations. The Executive Service of the Commission for the Prevention of Money Laundering (Sepblac) allowed Spanish companies, obliged under the money laundering law, to verify their clients’ identities through videoconference.

Since then, many European banks and companies have successfully implemented this process, including online account opening or direct debit orders. However, this identification method lacked legal probative validity (with a reversal of the burden of proof), and, therefore, its massive use to replace natural and legal persons’ presence could not be carried out.

This new form of identification became more transversal until the state of alarm due to Covid. Faced with the impossibility of going physically to the PA’s offices, citizens needed to continue with their lives and carry out the necessary procedures, for which it is often essential to have a qualified electronic certificate that can only be obtained in official centers prior to physical identification.

Given this scenario, a series of provisional measures were established, always within the state of alarm. One of these measures incorporated remote video identification as a fully legal means of digitally obtaining qualified electronic certificates. But it was not until May 14, 2021, that the Ministerial Order ETD/465/2021 was published, issued on May 6, 2021, by the Spanish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, when its use was regulated within the normal.

Video identification is an identification and identity verification process in which a person confirms with all the guarantees that they are who they say they are through a video. To do this, all you need is a device (computer, tablet, mobile) with a camera, internet connection, and a valid identity document.

Remote video identification can be made through two types of processes: real-time online video identification, assisted by an operator from the Registration Authority, or unassisted identification, without the need for interaction between the operator and the requesting user, with subsequent review of documents and biometric tests by the operator. Both processes have full probative value.

The ease of use of video identification also opens up new possibilities and increases the legal value of identity proof in sectors in which a unique identification between the user and his digital identity is essential, such as banking and financial services, telecommunications companies, etc.

Regarding the benefits of using this technology, the first and most important, especially if we consider the constant increase in identity theft cases, is fraud prevention, thanks to the combination of biometrics and machine learning based on artificial intelligence technologies.

Another advantage is the cost reduction when processing the incorporation of new clients (also known as onboarding) in banking, insurance, telco companies, etc. who aspire to achieve a long-term relationship between company and client.

Being able to carry out the identification online and in a few minutes is also a significant advantage for the end user by avoiding travel and waiting. In addition, the fact of being able to carry out video identification at any time and from any place (as there is an unattended option) greatly facilitates management, which can be done in less than five minutes.

Finally, but essential in all this type of process, it is worth highlighting security and legal compliance. Speeding up the procedures that previously required a physical presence is the best guarantee for the information treatment, allowing companies to continue advancing in their digitization. This process is completed through a simple video call, with the security of being aligned with the highest entities’ compliance standards, such as the CCN (National Cryptologic Center).

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