Face-to-face: How artificial intelligence (AI) could signal a revival of in-person identity verification services

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Face-to-face: How artificial intelligence (AI) could signal a revival of in-person identity verification services

It was a defining moment of 2019: a doctored video clip of a decade-old celebrity interview was posted online to both showcase a new technology and warn us of its consequences. Taken from an episode of David Letterman’s late-night talk show in 2008, the video features comedian Bill Hader recounting his time on a movie set with Tom Cruise.

But there’s a twist. The viral video’s creator applied AI processing to the video – a technique commonly known as ‘deepfake’ technology – to transplant Cruise’s face onto Hader’s every time he did an impression of the action movie star.

The result was at once subtle, seamless and eye-opening. The video quickly went viral, amassing millions of views in a matter of weeks and getting coverage in The Guardian and Rolling Stone.

Deepfake technology, its abilities and possibilities, were at last fully demonstrated to the public.

But what does its arrival mean for other areas of human activity, where important services have been increasingly digitised and delivered over the internet?

Behind The News ‘Deepfakes Explained: How they’re made, how to spot them & what it means for the future of fake news’.

Putting the ‘real’ in real estate

AI-powered face superimposing technology, which includes deepfake technology, and the recent image processing, gender-swapping filters and ageing ‘Apps’ found online, can blur the line between reality and fiction in unforeseen ways.

While the use of such technology is currently restricted to videos and viral sharing, it could have a big impact on the wider digital economy, especially in areas that rely on identity verification.

Take, for example, property conveyancing – the transfer of an interest in property from one party to another. It’s a complex transaction, often involving large sums of money, government oversight and legal/regulatory compliance.

It shouldn’t be any surprise then, that property conveyancing invariably requires the verification of the identity of both buyer and seller to ensure integrity, trust and accuracy in the transaction.  As a result, a number of service providers have emerged to offer identity verification services entirely online, sometimes requiring users to upload images or videos of themselves holding their identification documents.

However with deepfake technology on the rise, will the accuracy and veracity of entirely online identity verification be tested?

Checks and balances

In the potentially high-stakes world of property conveyancing, there may be a renewed emphasis on face-to-face identity verification which can act as a deterrent to fraudulent behaviour using deepfake technology.

In order to meet the identity verification standards prescribed by state and territory land titles authorities, an Identity Agent (such as Australia Post) must maintain the required level of professional indemnity and fidelity insurance and carry out a face-to-face, in-person interview with an individual that is a party to a property transaction to verify the identity of that individual.  

Australia Post can help

With its network of physical locations around Australia, Australia Post can help conveyancers, solicitors and mortgage providers comply with their verification of identity obligations.

Australia Post has been providing verification of identity services for a variety of applications for over 30 years.

Australia Post’s verification of identity services are offered at over 1,500 participating Post Offices in locations as remote as Tennant Creek and Norfolk Island as well as metropolitan and regional locations.

Facing the facts

Digitisation has swept through many industries, revolutionising the way they operate and introducing opportunities to do things better and quicker. Property conveyancing is no exception.

But while there are opportunities to streamline many parts of the conveyancer’s business, it can be wise to proceed with caution.

With face superimposing technology now firmly embedded in the technology landscape, the future of identity verification may begin to look increasingly physical.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for your business needs.