In the UK, High Street is where the pharmacy, dry cleaner and shoe repair shops are located, the U.S. equivalent of Main Street. A staple on High Streets across the country is Timpson, a shoe repair chain that also does watch repairs, dry cleaning and key cutting.
The services Timpson offer cannot take place in the virtual world, people need to come in drop off their shoes or laundry and then comeback and pick them up. It’s the very opposite of an online business but that isn’t stopping Timpson from making an online play.
Timpson has launched ArkHive, a brick and mortar store that one day will offer online identities. For now, consumers can come into the ArkHive store and open an account that will enable individuals to store scanned and verified versions of their driver license passports and other documents. From the account/app the consumer can choose to share that information with others.
The ArkHive account is free, including storage of verified documents. Eventually, the company hopes that consumers will be able to use ArkHive account to carry out other transactions online, such as proving your identity to open a new bank account.
ArkHive is offering individuals employee screening services, passport application assistance and assistance with database checks. The shop also enables individual to print photos have have photos taken for other credentials, such as passports.
For businesses ArkHive is also offering different services. The shop will do landlord tenant background checks, anti-money laundering checks and employment pre-screening. They will also print business cards and leaflets.
While some of these services might seem rudimentary, ArkHive knows that changes are coming to digital identity in the UK with the Verify project and they are preparing for it, according to Internet of Me.
“We were having conversations saying Verify is such a fantastic idea that we absolutely agree with, but not everybody is going to be able to get through that process online, so we started thinking about where those individuals might go,” asks Will Lankston, ArkHive’s head of retail. “If they can’t be verified online because they’re ‘thin file’, or haven’t got digital skills or can’t access a computer, smartphone or tablet they can’t just fall out of the system. They still need to be able to access these services. So we thought, why don’t we verify these people in person? Allow them to come into a place on the High Street and have their identity verified and be sent home with a new digital ID or be supported in store to access those services online.”
Last November the first ArkHive shop opened in Henley-on-Thames, next door to a branch of Timpson. If there is enough interest, the plan is to open more shops or offer ArkHive facilities within the Group’s other stores.