06 February 2016

Banks backing UK government online identity project

03 November 2011  |  10756 views  |  8 biometrics - eye

Big banks and card schemes are among a list of 26 companies that are working with the UK government on the creation of a new personal identity system for consumers transacting online.

The Midata initiative is being promoted as a means for consumers to access the information held on them by the public and private bodies. But it is also a key plank in the Government's initiative to replace the abandoned national ID card scheme with a new online identity service that can be managed and controlled by individual consumers and shared with service providers.

"The commercial potential for businesses in shifting their customer relationships from a unilateral data-gathering approach to a mutual trust-based sharing one is considerable," says the UK's Department for Business Innovation and Skills, which is co-ordinating the effort. "By combining data from many different sources and letting consumers add information of their own, businesses have a significant opportunity to help customers create rich, new 'person-centric' data assets."

The Midata project envisages the creation of a market for providers of identity services.

"Individuals will be able to take these 'tokens of identity' with them from organisation to organisation," says BIS. "The same approach can be extended to other tokens of verification, for example that this person 'has this credit score', or 'is entitled to these benefits'. These tokens can reduce risk and streamline sales processes."

The UK Payments Council has convened a project team called Operation Gaia (Government Authentication & Identity Assurance), to assess the case for banking involvement in government-sponsored ID initiatives.

Other banking organisations named among the 26 companies working on the midata scheme include Lloyds and RBS, while the cards industry is represented by Visa, MasterCard and the UK Cards Association. Financial comparison Website Moneysupermarket.com has also thrown its hat into the ring, as has ID vendor Garlick, and global search engine Google.

The government is looking to launch the first 'personal data inventories' in 2012.

Comments: (8)

Jan-Olof Brunila - Swedbank - Stockholm | 03 November, 2011, 16:37

Banks are in a good position to be the focal point för digital identity managenment since banks have through the KYC requirements already a reliable register of customers accessing online-banking. In Sweden banks have launched an interoperable online identification service called BankID since a number of years. This service is now used by other parties like the tax office, the national health insurance service, insurance companies and other entities wanting to transact securely on-line with the public without building a proprietary user identification service. The Swedish digital ID scheme works with an open loop business model enabelling commercial use of this service. Look at BankID.com to learn more.

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Chris Thorpe - National Savings and Investments - London | 03 November, 2011, 17:56

I'm confused. Is this actually the same thing as the Cabinet Office's Digital Identity Initiative? I though that put some fairly robust criteria around who would be trusted as an ID provider. This seems to be something different to what's previously described. Can anyone clarify?

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Robin Brownsell - Greater Brighton Banking - Brighton | 03 November, 2011, 18:55

I am confused too.Just been at a lunch time meeting today organised by CSFI and nothing was mentioned about this initiative.We did have three very interesting presentations from companies running identity initiatives and the round table discussion essentially agreed that nothing would be done until a cash crisis hit us - I undertsand the next presentation will demonstrate the cost advantages.

If any one is intersted suggest they google Dave Birch ,Research Fellow CSFI,Co-Founder Consult Hyperion,Chir Digital Identity Forum

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Jacqui Taylor - FlyingBinary - London | 04 November, 2011, 06:40 Yes this is the same initiative as the Cabinet Office IDA programme. However the delivery is being managed in a variety of ways. Department of Business Innovation and Skills is one of the implementation strands of the overall programme which is why they are quoted in this article. An additional four strands from different Goverment Departments make up the initial implementation phase of the programme. This is in line with the ICT Strategy and the devolved Crown responsibilities which now exist for the delivery of IT systems into government.
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Jon Shamah - E J Consultants Ltd - London | 04 November, 2011, 09:58

This does seem a little strange as I heard that the Gaia project had not been progressing as fast as the other pilots. Has it been relaunched as Midata?

I must say that it is strange that there was no mention of this at recent industry/Government meetings on IDA (unless I fell asleep at a crucial time!)

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A Finextra member | 04 November, 2011, 10:07

Thanks Jacqui - so there's one initiative, multiply rebranded and with functionality sliced up among different departments, with no central point for us banks to engage with. Sounds good so far!

Maybe I'm being thick, but from the very generalised descriptions of midata, it's impossible to work out what it actually does. The description does seem to differ from what the Cabinet Office has proposed as the federated ID for accessing government services (which seems to be a more robust scheme than the BIS variant).

So, here's a thought for the government departments involved - get your acts together and explain concisely and coherently what this thing does, what it means for businesses, and what it means for customers. The last is, of course, the most important, as there is a huge antipathy among the general public against any government involvement with their digital identity. Utopian, and vaguely worded blog postings won't sell this – show us the real benefits

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Nick Collin - Collin Consulting Ltd - London | 04 November, 2011, 15:59

Fascinating!  This "e-trust" concept - the idea that banks are uniquely well positioned to deliver digital ID and authentication services on behalf of government or anyone else - has been around for many years.  I wrote a paper on the subject of e-trust for CSFI back in the 1990s then worked on the ECIPS project for the Payments Council a few years later, then did the same for MasterCard, and even approached the UK government a few times during the national ID card years.  In all cases nothing happened.  Which is a great pity, since as Jan-Olaf points out it works perfectly well in Sweden.  It will be interesting to see what happens this time around.

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Bishwajit Choudhary - Nets - Oslo | 07 November, 2011, 12:46

Both Norway and Denmark have sector solutions, whcih are used by all the banks (in case of Norway) and banks + gov. agencies (in case of Denmark). Getting the banking sector on-board remains a key success factor.

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