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Mastercard vows to give consumers control of digital identity

Mastercard vows to give consumers control of digital identity

Mastercard is taking on the tricky subject of digital identity, setting out its vision for a system that gives individuals control and stresses the importance of inclusion, confidentiality and transparency.

How companies use consumer data in the digital era has been in the spotlight recently, with Facebook the most glaring example of a big tech firm that has found itself at the centre of a damaging privacy crisis.

Just yesterday, Apple sought to distinguish itself by stressing that with its new credit card it will not know where a customer shopped, what they bought or how much they paid. Meanwhile, partner Goldman Sachs has committed to not sharing or selling data to third parties for marketing and advertising.

Now Mastercard, which is also a partner on the Apple Card, is offering a consumer charter-based system it says can help to restore trust in the digital world. The payments giant has set out 10 principles on data rights and ownership, confidentiality, consent, transparency, security and inclusion that amount to a fundamental individual right: 'I own my identity and I control my identity data.'

The company says that its model is about privacy-by-design and does not aggregate identity data. Digital interactions will involve minimal data exchange and happen only when needed, with users in control and their identity bound to their phone.

Ajay Bhalla, president, cyber and intelligence solutions, Mastercard, says: "The big question for digital interactions in a hyper-connected age is: how do you trust someone you don’t know, can’t see and isn’t present in person?

"This is an area we’ve been exploring for some time, in discussion with a range of different groups. It’s with this insight that we imagine a world where a person’s identity and the devices operating on their behalf can be verified immediately, safely and securely, where access is gained without passwords and data is exchanged only with consent."

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