Fintech Mobile & Online

Fintech at minus four

Fintech at minus four. Photo: Sahil Jatana, Flickr Creative Commons Licence
Written by Dave Birch

Dave Birch returns from Oslo Fintech Fest having experienced the power and potential of BankID, and wonders why others aren’t implementing local authentication.

Well, I’m back from Oslo, where it was a balmy -4 during the Oslo Fintech Fest. The nice people organising this little get-together of almost a thousand close friends asked me along to give a short talk on the next 10 years of fintech, and since some of Consult Hyperion’s favourite Nordic clients were going to be there, I thought I’d take them up on the offer (especially when I saw the great line-up they had for the day).

Another reason for wanting to go along to #OsloFintechFest is that Norway is one of my favourite countries, for several reasons:

  • They don’t use cash. The beggars here have QR codes that you can scan to donate money to them using your mobile wallet.
  • They are obsessed with trolls, and made one of my all-time favourite films, Troll Hunter.
  • They have a functioning bank-led identity infrastructure.

Yes, that’s right. It may sound a little far-fetched, but it’s true. Basically, everyone here uses a bank-provided identity and secure authentication service to do pretty much everything. In a population of 5.2 million, there are 3.5 million people with a BankID widget and a million people with a BankID app on their phones (here’s my fanboy piece about it back in 2006). What started off as a secure way to log in to your bank account has morphed into a secure way to log in to everything. This is from SecureIDNews:

In 2015, BankID was used 430 million times, a number that has increased year by year as more services are made available. It is a two-factor solution, with a key-fob-style token – or an optional mobile app – and a BankID password. Customers can use their BankID to lease a car, rent an apartment or enrol for college.

Sounds pretty good to me. And now they’ve decided to extend the authentication beyond the browser and in-app, which is where, as we all know, the action is. They are running a pilot programme right now. From the same article:

Encap’s ‘Smarter Authentication’ is a device-based, multi-factor platform that removes the need for key fobs by enabling authentication to take place inside an app. Encap takes advantage of the device’s authentication capability – Apple’s Touch ID, for example – and lets that be used to verify the customer.

Love in-app. Love local authentication. Love Apple Touch ID. I’m green with envy. Why don’t the UK banks have something like this in place?

Unconditional anonymity

It was terrific event, with excellent networking and some great panel discussions. I gave a talk about the future of fintech and ended up talking about Consult Hyperion’s ‘Live Five’ for 2017, so that there were some specific areas of focus for the delegates. Go Norway. I do have one slight area of disagreement with my Norwegian cousins though. This is from The Nordic Page:

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority – Datatilsynet – believes people should be able to make purchases without having to leave electronic tracks behind them.

I’m unconvinced. I think the disadvantages of unconditional anonymity greatly outweigh the benefits of managed pseudonymity. Hence the next step for BankID should be to deliver a functional, bank-led, multi-identity pseudonymity service (so that when you’re asked for your identity, a menu of identities pops up on your phone for you to choose from. For example: ‘David G.W. Birch’, ‘Dave Birch’, ‘Lord Tantamount Horseposture’ or ‘G. Jesus Saves’) and show the rest of us how it’s done.

READ NEXT: Digital identity and blockchain, with Dave Birch

– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Photo: Sahil Jatana, Flickr Creative Commons Licence

About the author

Dave Birch

David GW Birch is an author, adviser and commentator on digital financial services. He is Global Ambassador for Consult Hyperion (the secure electronic transactions consultancy that he helped to found), Technology Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (the London-based think tank) and a Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey Business School. He is an internationally recognised thought leader in digital identity and digital money, and was named one of the global top 15 favourite sources of business information by Wired magazine.

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