Banks set to lead On-line identity

Why it's taken so long who knows? The initiative comes out of the "Connecting the UK Strategy" launched at Downing St last week.

Banks are ideally placed to run identity services, they know who their customers are and already issue "identity" information in the form of cheque books, bank and credit cards. It's a simple step to offer an "identity" that is suitable for on-line use.

The banks are adopting "chip & pin" for use with debit/credit cards which will hopefully reduce fraud (both at point of sale and over the Internet) and therefore are ideally suited to extend this to on-line identification. They already have the infrastructure to authorise on-line purchases and this could be extended to on-line identification. They also would be ideally suited to say introduce some kind of on-line certificate and act as a trusted third party for identification. This way a user's browser could have a certificate installed signed by the bank which would identify the user. This could be extended to certificated in WAP phones, PDA's etc.

Until there is a trusted way to identify people in a secure manner, various on-line practices are bound to fail - or at least not take-off to the extent that government wants them to.
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