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.