Mastercard offers peek into new digital identity service

Niko Iliakis

Friday 13 December 2019

Global credit card and payments company Mastercard has been making inroads into digital security, unveiling a new digital ID service which will allow customers to verify their identity without having to provide any cards or documents.

The venture comes as part of a broader push to improve security in both public and private digital services, and if adopted across the board could significantly reduce cases of credit card and identity fraud.

“Our increasingly digital life - the way we transact and interact - has challenged our traditional notions of identity, trust and privacy. We need a new model,” said Ajay Bhalla, Mastercard’s President of Cyber and Intelligence.
 
“We believe that this starts with a commitment to the responsible handling of personal information, giving consumers control over which data is used and how it is used to verify their identity.”

How does it work?

Mastercard’s ID service will use a distributed model that combines information stored on a user’s smartphone with data from their bank or participating government agencies, allowing them to sign into apps and online services securely and automatically.

Rather than holding information in a central database, it will be encrypted and stored on the user’s phone, in much the same way a payment card is stored in a digital wallet. Mastercard says this means users will retain full ownership of their data.

Initial trials at Deakin University saw student volunteers verify their identities prior to sitting online exams, and Mastercard is currently teaming up with Australia Post to beef up its existing digital iD services.

Australian institutions lag in digital security

At a recent AusPayNet Summit, RBA Governor Philip Lowe took Australia’s banking and payments industries to task for making only minimal progress in their digital security services. 

“Today, our digital identity system is fragmented and siloed, which has resulted in a proliferation of identity credentials and passwords. This gives rise to security vulnerabilities and creates significant inconvenience and inefficiencies, which can undermine development of the digital economy,” Dr Lowe said.

He pointed out that if these compliance risks are allowed to pile up, it will only hurt financial institutions’ bottom lines, “so it is strongly in their interests to make progress here.”

If security is on your mind, you might want to check out our guide to keeping your phone safe while banking. And if you’re on the lookout for a credit card, head over to our credit card comparison page, or browse the selection below.

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