Australia’s major banks will soon provide biometric identity checking, with the ‘Big Four’ set to switch on Digital ID under the one service next year.
Banks see “identity-as-a-service” as an incremental revenue stream that will allow them to charge retailers or utilities for validating customer details, given banks are ‘highly trusted’ in the economy.
National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank have been the drivers of the new digital identity network, known as ConnectID, which all four major banks will switch on next year.
ConnectID was created by eftpos, and accredited under the federal government’s controversial Trusted Digital Identity Framework last year.
Before the creation of AP+, eftpos and BPay were separately exploring digital identity. Now, strategy has been given stronger impetus under AP+ as the banks co-ordinate efforts around payment innovation.
“This is a moment of truth, having a national digital identity ecosystem for Australia backed by some of the largest organisations in the country in terms of size and coverage and trust,” said Andrew Black, Managing Director of connectID at AP+.
“It is a huge milestone to be able to create a digital exchange, to make sure we provide as many Australians as possible with trusted coverage of their identity.”
Other holders of identity, such as state governments, will also be able to use the network, as multiple organisations battle to be the “source of trust”.
How Orwellian does that sound?
“We recognise this is something that no individual bank can deliver effectively on its own, and it made sense for us to work with AP+, which is an experienced network operator and has existing relationships with the banks,” said NAB chief digital, data and analytics officer, Angela Mentis.
“We need an interoperable solution with whole-of-economy reach, and AP+ plays a vital role in maximising the opportunities for Australian consumers and businesses.”
The move will help banks respond to competition from international payments giants also moving into their services towards digital identity.
DIGITAL IDENTITY RACE
The banks are keen to fend off growing competition for digital identity services, including from Mastercard and Australia Post, which are working together, and are also accredited under the TDIF.
No longer a ‘conspiracy theory’. The digital dystopia begins to manifest.
The groups say by stopping customers having to re-establish their identity multiple times with various companies and government agencies, the digital identity services will reduce customer vulnerability to cyberattacks by reducing the number of organisations holding sensitive personal information.
It isn’t just banks making the transition to Digital ID, either.
Other ongoing trials involve an online liquor retailer conducting proof of age checks via scanning of faces, where the retailer will be given a “yes” or “no” answer that the customer is 18 or over.
Let’s also not forget about the latest ‘cyber attack’ false flag operation.
The Australian government have been working hard with their myGovID program as well:
Furthermore, while banks see the service as most useful in online commerce, the technology is also set to be used at self-service checkouts in physical stores in the near future:
Contactless pay involves customers authenticating themselves using their regular banking login and providing express consent for the identity data to be shared with the store or bank.
When you walk in the store, you simply walk out with the goods, and are charged for the item based on AI weight calculations and a face scan that matches to your pre-loaded bank account.
Amazon stores have already been doing this for a few years now.
Other uses of the service will be purchasing mobile phone plans, allowing banks to earn revenue from the major telcos, along with utilities and insurance.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Biometric systems are set to be rolled out for employee onboarding, travel bookings and loan applications, ‘reducing costs for businesses’ by making processes ‘more efficient’.
“Businesses will see improved data quality, with data verified directly from trusted parties such as a bank, lower costs in customer onboarding and identity verification across sectors, and manual processes replaced by digital convenience,” AP+ say on their website.
“This will have flow-on benefits in terms of more streamlined business operations and trust in the digital economy. It will also reduce their risks from having to hold data that is exceeding what is required.”
The Reserve Bank has been pushing the major banks for several years to ‘improve the security of e-commerce’ by establishing better ways to validate identity.
AP+ CEO Lynn Kraus has cited digital ID as one of four key priority areas, with the others being QR code payments, making eftpos more attractive for commerce, and the development of smartphone wallets.
Yes, digital identity is at our doorsteps, ladies and gentlemen.
I think back to when the President of Microsoft warned the world last year that we may be living in an unrecognisable world by the time 2024 comes around.
Perhaps that projection was not too far off after all.
Let’s not forget who runs the banking system in Australia:
All by design.