Online privacy is being made simpler and safer with the introduction of a digital identity card by Acxiom Corporation (NASDAQ: ACXM), a global leader in interactive marketing and risk mitigation services.
Acxiom announced today a beta offering for retail merchants, corporations, financial institutions and other organizations that wish to offer a privately branded identity card to their customers.
"Businesses should benefit with a decrease in internal consumer authentication and fraud detection costs if they encourage their customers to adopt a digital identity card," says Tim Christin, senior vice president of Acxiom's risk mitigation division. "And in turn, their customers should benefit by the streamlined online experience with a single sign-on system, the elimination of user names and passwords, and the reduced risk of identity fraud."
A digital identity card allows consumers to establish new online accounts and log in to existing accounts with a unique, encrypted identity that is stored on the consumer's personal computer. This is the digital equivalent of a privately branded identity card that is typically carried in a person's wallet.
These identity cards are a secure way for consumers to control their personal data and identity when conducting Internet shopping, online financial transactions, and many other activities that require disclosure of personal information. "They ensure an easier and more efficient user experience to verify an identity while reducing the possibility of ID fraud," added Christin. "They put consumers fully in charge of their identity and information disclosure requirements over the Internet, which reflects Acxiom's leadership role as a champion of consumer privacy and online safety."
According to Christin, 2008 was a record year for e-commerce fraud, amounting to an estimated $4 billion in losses. "The convenience, speed and safety of online payment transactions have encouraged Internet spending," Christin says. "The trends are for online payments to grow exponentially over the next few years, and unfortunately, with that growth also comes an increase of online fraud."
A business can allow patrons to apply for the identity card by simply logging on to the business's website. The consumer is prompted to answer a series of authentication questions that validate the user's identity. After the user's identity is authenticated and validated, the digital identity card is activated for storage on the consumer's personal computer.
The consumer is then ready to click in to a website that accepts the identity card without entering user names/passwords or filling out time-consuming registration forms. Access is granted to secure sites that have agreed to accept the identity cards by authenticating consumers without requesting personal data or account numbers. Sites that accept the cards will display a purple "i" symbol noting the "identity card is accepted here."
The identity card uses Acxiom's authentication technology to verify in real time that the user is who he says he is, is not a known fraudster, and does not raise other high-risk security flags.
"Corporations have struggled for years to authenticate consumers because the Internet was never designed with any kind of identity layer," Christin says. "With e-tailing fraud losses climbing each year, this service is ideal for companies that find background checks to be cost prohibitive or that want to offer consumers a card accessible only on the company's website. Acxiom's offering now provides our clients a best-practice verification and authentication architecture that takes advantage of consumer-friendly technology. Businesses can lower their identity verification/authentication costs while increasing consumer security."
Acxiom has partnered with Azigo, a leader in user-centric identity management, to offer the Acxiom Identity Card.
Acxiom is a member of The Information Card Foundation (ICF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing a simpler, more secure and more open digital identity on the Internet, increasing user control over their personal information while enabling mutually beneficial digital relationships between people and businesses.
ICF's goal is to increase awareness of the use of electronic ID cards on the Internet and to encourage interoperability in business around new standards.