Financial messaging body Swift has launched a single-sign-on digital identity key aimed at simplifying the authentication process for corporates linking to multiple bank treasury systems.
The new product, called the 3SKey, could replace the multiple passwords and tokens used by treasurers to manage their banking relationships. Instead they can use a single, multi-network digital signature. The new product is also compatible with Swift's recently released Electronic Bank Account Management (EBAM) product.
Swift hopes the 3SKey will establish itself as a market standard for personal signatures among both corporate treasurers and financial institutions. Three specific markets have been identified - for banks to use for their own online banking and portal services; for international corporates and their cross-border treasury activity; and for corporate-bank communication in domestic markets.
The 3Skey launch follows a successful pilot in France involving 20 banks, corporates and vendors that began in April and ended in September. France was chosen because of the urgent demand for a domestic digital authentication standard, however Swift is likely to face a greater challenge in encouraging wider adoption in other domestic markets or on an international basis.
"The fastest way to encourage adoption was to start with a community like France," says Luc Meurant, head of banking, supply chain and corporate markets, Swift. "But if there are some domestic markets that already have a solution that works well, there is no point changing it. However, multi-national corporates do not want different solutions for each different domestic market."
There are services already available for cross-border digital authentication, including numerous bank-specific offerings and also Identrust, a bank-owned digital identity service that was founded in 1999. With Identrust, corporates register with one bank and then that registration is passed onto all other participating banks.
With 3SKey corporates are given one single token which they must register with all banks. According to Meurant this gives banks greater autonomy over choosing their customers and is also in keeping with various compliance requirements, such as Know Your Customer rules.
Inevitably though, any effort to achieve global standardisation where similar services already exist will raise the issue of interoperability, something that Meurand does not rule out. "We are not aiming to be the only global solution so if we need to interoperate, that is something we will embrace, based on the business case."