protect your digital identity

What’s New in 2020?

Proving your identity in the real world is relatively simple. All you need to do is present your government-issued identification - be it a personal ID card, a driver's license or any other document with a photo or proof of address. Being physically present means that the persons or organizations you are doing business with can easily check that you are who you say you are.

What is Digital about Identity?

When we move this process into the digital world, things become a little more complex and it is where "digital identity" comes into play. A digital identity is this: a compilation of information about you that exists in digital form - ranging from date of birth to biometric data or even your social media activity. This information is then used to verify your real-world identity, since you are not physically present and neither is your physical ID.

The various information that makes up your digital identity is diverse but can be grouped into two broad categories, namely digital attributes and digital activities. Any of these or a combination thereof can function as means of personal identification.

Business Tie-In

Even though digital identity is still largely underused in the world today, the digital ID verification market is expected to reach $12.8 billion in 2024.

Any business that interacts with its customers and users through online means should make security of their digital identity a paramount concern. Experts as well as the experiences of many businesses say the same thing: make digital identity your imperative!

This does not only mean protecting digital identity when a customer interacts with the business itself, but also when they interact with the business's other customers.

An example can be made from anything - ridesharing services, house rentals,  dating sites - all the situations where it is necessary that a business ensures both sides actually are who they say they are.

Businesses also must provide security solutions that will minimize opportunities for fraud and detect fraudsters, especially since one of the fastest-growing types of fraud is account takeover, which is possible only if criminals acquire a customer's digital identity. 

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The damage from account takeover is not just the customer losing both money and faith in the business they entrusted their data to: according to Juniper Research, the year 2020 will mark the point where corporate losses from online fraud reach a staggering $25.6 billion.

Safety & Security First

The safety and security of digital identity is, of course, also the obligation of each individual. Even though your digital identity allows you access to your personal accounts and provides credibility when you wish to engage in online transactions with persons and product and service providers, it is, just like your real-world identity, a possible target for criminals

The information that forms your digital identity exists online and, as such, is subject to hacking and data breaches which, unfortunately, occur more and more in the digital world. Some have recently exposed billions of records.

This information is then sold on the "dark web" - a network of websites that cannot be reached by normal web browsing or search engines - and used by fraudsters and identity thieves.

A recent study, performed by Jumio Global Trust and Safety Survey, found that only two thirds of adults in the USA and one half of adults in the United Kingdom feel safe while using online sharing services.

Take Care and Do This

Precautions are therefore necessary for your digital identity. Security experts have long been warning consumers to avoid the following activities since they are the most common means of digital identity information theft:

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Among large businesses, Mastercard has recently made moves into digital identity security. Only recently the company has made a strategic investment in Trust Stamp, an AI-based authentication service provider. This investment comes on the heels of a previous collaboration between Mastercard and Trust Stamp, where the two companies worked on developing a secure authentication network for both online and offline environments, the specific aim being privacy and data security in environments with low network connectivity.

Mastercard Pilot in Australia

In 2019, Mastercard piloted a digital resource with the aim of providing instant and secure identity authentication. The resource will be tested in Australia, in cooperation with Australia Post and Deakin University, both of which will make it available to its staff, customers and student volunteers.

The idea at the core of Mastercard's pilot program is to remove the need for people to carry multiple documents by having information stored on an individual's mobile device.

This information is then verified by other digital attributes such as information held by their bank or a government agency participating in the program - all with the aim of eliminating the need for a centralized ID database.

Mastercard's reasoning behind this initiative is that a decentralized digital identity gives "consumers control over which data is used and how it is used to verify their identity." It is also convenient, especially for online services and reduces the risk of data being mishandled. 


Mastercard Trying it Out in Macedonia

The same idea of avoiding a centralized database is present in Mastercard's project for North Macedonia. The aim is to provide Macedonian citizens with day-to-day services that can be accessed via digital identity, such as managing bank and mobile phone accounts

This system will be based on both Macedonian and European digital identity regulations and standards.

According to Ajay Bhalla, Mastercard's President of Cyber and Intelligence Solutions, the company believes that digital identity security "[...] starts with a commitment to the responsible handling of personal information, giving consumers control over which data is used and how it is used to verify their identity."

How will digital identity help the payments industry?

Well, it will make onboarding significantly easier. It will also allow both individuals and SMEs to open accounts with less paperwork, more quickly and smoothly. In addition to providing a better user experience, biometrics - be it voice, face or even behavior - will also surely bring an increase in security.