Challenges for Verifying Addresses Around the World

One of the most common attributes in an identity verification check is a physical address; where is your current address? It makes sense, as it’s necessary for any mailing or shipping, as well as providing another data point to verify.

In newer cities, such as most of North America, the grid plan method used in the city planning process makes the addressing system fairly straight-forward. In general, numbers progress logically, streets run in one direction and avenues run another, and there is zip or postal codes to quantify a geographic region.

Even in this systematic framework, there are problems. Roads change their names, or additions go out of sequence. There can be multiple residences at the same address, which leads to varying designations (side-door, side entrance, enter on left). There are different addresses for the same unit (PH1, Penthouse one, #3501).

Of course, errors are possible when entering information. Wrong numbers, spelling mistakes, inaccurate codes, or formatting issues all lead to verification issues. It’s estimated that up to 18% of all addresses entered online contain some type of error.

These problems compound when dealing with ancient cities or rural areas that have no systematic address system (from the viewpoint of easy digitization).

Address Systems

For example, Japanese addresses will be in different order if written in Latin or Japanese. The Japanese address system is complex and idiosyncratic, and based on geographic divisions. However, different cities will divide their area using different schemes and the lines are blurry and there are no clear delimiters.

In rural Ireland, 35% of premises have non-unique addresses. Postal delivery requires knowing the family residence. An address could be something like, go to the red house and turn left and beside the big tree. Try inputting that into a web form! In 2014, they launched the Eircode, which suffixes an identifier that is unique to each premise.

In Hong Kong, there are no official address systems. There are no postal codes or street names, instead they have building names, floors and levels to describe where they live.

For many people, the concept of street and addresses don’t really apply. Many roads do not have set names, let alone numbers. This is problematic for online commerce and identification. For shipping, while locals might know how to get a package to the person, eCommerce providers are working in the dark. To provide the full benefits of eCommerce to everyone will require systems such as Eircode being adopted throughout the world.

Currently, address checks for eCommerce via credit card use the Address Verification System (AVS). AVS checks the numbers of the address on the credit card file to the corresponding numbers provided in the eCommerce transaction. So, for example, AVS checks the zip code and the street number of a billing address and compares those numbers to the zip code and street number of the credit card owner. While Visa, MasterCard and American Express widely support AVS in the USA, Canada and UK, there’s significant work to expand the scope to more countries.

Address Validation

At Trulioo, our GlobalGateway identity verification service offers enhanced Address Validation. This feature offers accurate mapping of user-inputted address fields to help ensure that the data inputs appear in the correct hierarchical alignment.

By processing addresses and breaking them down into separate attributes, Address Validation adds missing components such as the region or city. It also formats the address using the local country’s standards and validates that the address exists to a specific location level in each country, such as a building, street, city, or postal code. This ensures that GlobalGateway can accurately and seamlessly validate address data for countries around the world.

Validating addresses at the beginning of the process is a major benefit to both eCommerce providers and financial institutions (FIs). For eCommerce, getting the address correct saves on the expense of reshipping or slow delivery. For FIs, Address Validation offers another powerful data point to fight fraud and improve Know Your Customer information.

While problems still exist for verifying addresses around the world, with Trulioo’s Address Validation you solve many address issues before they are even issues. Don’t let address formatting even be a question; enjoy the benefits of Address Validation with GlobalGateway as you enter new markets.