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Ready to field decentralized digital ID services, Microsoft seeks partners

Ready to field decentralized digital ID services, Microsoft seeks partners

Microsoft says it is ready for its next step toward offering decentralized digital ID services — creating partnerships and open standards that will result in those services.

In April, about three years after company executives said they were starting work on an online ID culture to replace today’s chaotic environment, Microsoft previewed its Azure Active Director Verifiable Credentials. This followed the launch of a decentralized ID pilot with biometrics providers Acuant, AU10TIX, Idemia, Jumio, Socure, Onfido, and Vu Security in March.

That test, according to Microsoft, approximates what many in the security, financial and online ID industries think could be a new global, standardized identification system. The new paradigm is sometimes called the personal identity ecosystem, and in some versions styled as self-sovereign identity (SSI).

Indeed, the goal is to move as far away as possible from today’s world, where a person has little or no control over their own digital identity, biometric and otherwise. In a decentralized ID landscape, the person’s critical data is stored securely and released only when and how that person chooses.

That kind of control could engender more trust and persuade more people to buy into the scheme. It also would decrease the degree of data processing, something many stakeholders can get behind.

It is safe to assume that executives know every valuable player in the decentralized digital ID industry who is willing to sidle up, but no new partnerships have been announced, nor has any expectation for when they will be made public.

Similarly, Microsoft has not said when it might have a generally available service on the market.

Executives have, on the other hand, said the anticipated service will be environmentally responsible, put privacy protection in customer hands, and be easily supervised, secure, reliable, trustworthy, inclusive, fair and easy to use. These 5 “guiding principles for decentralized identities” will direct both Microsoft’s work on standards and service development, according to a blog post.

Personal identity ecosystems could be the answer that most consumers do not yet know they need.

More than 44 percent of them have two to five passwords or password variants for all of their accounts, according to a market report by Liminal, a specialized business consulting firm working with digital identity issues. Almost one in five consumers use the same code for all of their online accounts.

And business lose 43 percent of consumers during onboarding because centralized online or mobile account application processes are a pain to use because of identity verification steps.

Liminal’s report notes that identity wallets, one of the possible vehicles in personal identity ecosystems, could evolve together with SSI initiatives, another scheme for putting people in control of their identities.

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