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Mastercard digital identity network plans detailed at Authenticate 2022

Mastercard digital identity network plans detailed at Authenticate 2022

“My business is actually responsible for building a new network for Mastercard: the identity network,” Mastercard SVP of Digital Identity Sarah Clark said during a presentation at Authenticate 2022 that provided the clearest picture yet of the global enterprise’s ambitions.

The digital identity network will not just be for those with Mastercards, as the presentation on ‘Use of FIDO in a Reusable Digital Identity Network’ made clear.

From a normal consumer’s standpoint, Clark says, the network is “not directly related” to Mastercard’s payment network at all.

The network is focussed for now on those that already have proof of who they are in the form of a government-issued ID. This evidence is then checked and supplemented by other signals.

Mastercard plans for its digital IDs to be reusable for in-person interactions, online, through the phone and all other channels.

The network is already “fully” live in two markets, and “active” in seven around the world, according to Clark. The company was accredited to the Australian government’s TDIF earlier this year. Brazil is the other country Mastercard’s digital identity has launched in.

Opportunities around digital ID are many, Clark says, and largely driven by the poor user experience most interactions provide. They also include age verification. People are becoming more aware of cyber threats and fraud, and therefore interested in privacy-preserving digital identity.

That means, in Mastercard’s view, a decentralized system in which users own their own digital identity, store it on their mobile devices, and consent to share it with requesting parties.

Mastercard is also engaging with governments as they stand up digital identity projects, and considering public-private partnerships.

The reusable digital identity service is called ‘ID,’ presumably to make it difficult to find with an internet search engine.

‘ID’ is unlocked with a biometric, and passwords are not involved.

The network also includes “identity providers,” which provide the apps individuals manage and share their digital ID from.

Mastercard turned to FIDO to provide standards that align with its user experience and trust priorities. FIDO benefits Mastercard ID with faster performance than proprietary biometric authentication systems, cost effective scalability, and the ability to add new biometric modalities with minimal development.

“We have plugged in FIDO via our Mastercard biometric authentication service,” Clark notes, which is a shared service within the organization.

Eventually, Mastercard plans to shift its authentication focus beyond face biometrics.

The company is also experimenting with web wallets and other tools to keep transactions simple.

Step-up authentication can move users outside of the FIDO protocol, but Clark expects this to happen infrequently.

Clark describes the network as “partner-friendly,” which includes national systems and other identity networks.

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