The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


New legislation clears the way for secure online identity

12 December 2012

Legislation passed by Parliament last night makes it easier and safer for companies and government agencies to offer services online.

The new Electronic Identity Verification Act will enable private sector organisations to access the RealMe service when it launches in 2013. The new service enables them to verify that a person using a service over the internet is who they claim to be.

The RealMe service, to be offered jointly by the Department of Internal Affairs and New Zealand Post, is designed with data security and privacy as its top priorities. All users will have full control over their personal information – including their name, date of birth, gender, and address.

New Zealand Post RealMe spokesperson Mandy Smith says the RealMe service delivers a high degree of certainty that a person is who they say they are when they contact a participating company electronically.

"Currently, the most an organisation usually knows about its online contacts is that they have a valid username and password; you still can't be sure that they are who they claim to be,” Mandy Smith says.

"There's a massive amount of business that would happen online if only the service could be certain of the identity of the person on the other side of the online transaction. RealMe fully responds to this clear business need.

"What's more, the overall experience for customers will be great, with simple, secure straight-through processing of transactions, less hanging around in queues, robust mitigation against identity theft," said Mandy Smith.

Department of Internal Affairs RealMe spokesperson Fiona Mullacrane says verified RealMe accounts will be built on DIA's existing well-tested igovt services.

"Users of RealMe will only need to show up in person once every five years, to set up and maintain their RealMe account. They get a biometric photo taken at a PostShop. We do some data checking and get their RealMe account going soon after that.

"With RealMe, people will be able access more online products and services from government agencies and organisations such as their banks and insurance companies," said Fiona Mullacrane.

RealMe also helps financial institutions comply with identity verification requirements in the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act, which come into effect at the end of June 2013.

"It'll be optional for those organisations to adopt RealMe," said Fiona Mullacrane. "For those that do, their customers are likely to appreciate the easy, quick and safe transactions made possible by RealMe, and it allows them to transform their business model and operating costs."

Media contacts:

Michael Tull (NZ Post) 04 496 4566

Simon Pleasants (DIA) 021 248 9853

More information: