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Verifying a secure digital mortgage service

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Open laptop with GOV.UK Verify logo superimposed.

After two years of work on our new digital mortgage service, we are getting close to the day when a customer completes the first fully digital mortgage deed.

Using the 'Sign Your Mortgage Deed' service will mean the borrower no longer needs to apply pen to paper and instead will digitally sign their deed online.

It’s all part of our drive to transform ourselves into a truly digital service provider, helping fulfil our ambition to become the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data. 

Benefits of digital signatures

Borrowers will save time as they won’t have to get their signatures witnessed or risk their documents being lost in the post. They will be able to log in and sign their deed at any time, meaning their application is more likely to move along more quickly.

But how can their lender be sure who has applied the digital signature?

Linking up with GOV.UK Verify

To ensure the right person is signing the deed, we have been working with the Government Digital Service (GDS) to enable us to use GOV.UK Verify, the government identity assurance service. By working with GDS we’ve been able to ensure that a borrower can easily progress from verifying their identity to digitally signing their mortgage deed.

Bringing two services together in this way takes a lot of work and collaboration. The Verify team at GDS have been helping us with the technical integration of Verify into our service. Our own team developing Sign Your Mortgage Deed have been on a steep learning curve to ensure that everything is working as it should. We have been really well supported by the expertise of the team at GDS and others who have guided us through this.

How the identity assurance works

Once it has been confirmed that the borrower is who they say they are through obtaining a Verify account, we will send them a security code by text message. The borrower can then input this code to confirm that they are the person signing the deed.

Our digital signature won’t be an electronic representation of a handwritten signature, but a secure way of confirming the content of a deed and the identity of the person signing it. The digital signature means that the content of the deed cannot be tampered with, or the content changed, without invalidating the signature. This gives additional assurance and security for everyone involved in the transaction.

Additionally, once someone has used the Verify service and set up an account, they can use their same account to access an increasing range of government online services.

If our users find that the Verify service doesn’t work for them, there will still be the option of signing a paper deed and having their signature witnessed in the traditional way, but that will be slower and more complex.

Next steps

The first phase of this service is aimed at homeowners who are going through the process of remortgaging. Following some final user testing, we aim to have completed the first fully digital remortgage deed later this year.

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