It is clear that high assurance identity on the internet is going to require identity proofing. With more than 1 Billion Web users, and 3 Billion mobile users increasingly connected to the Internet, scalability is going to be essential. If high assurance identities become the norm, digital identify verification services that do not require in-person proofing could therefore turn into a significant market opportunity
Most folks in the industry would tell you that credit bureaux, and financial institutions ought to be primary beneficiaries as the new business emerges. However, the convergence of Internet, mobile and telecommunication driven by iPhone and Android could attract new market players. Mobile network operators (MNOs) have a wealth of identifiable data about us. They are also uniquely positioned to bring to market multi-channel solution. In fact, an MNO-operated ID proofing service could easily support voice and web, for brick and mortar as well as online service providers.
Them comes the unfair advantage: the mobile handset. Obviously, the biggest challenge of "person not present" identity proofing lies in the processor ability to match the person on the other side of the communication channel to the identity data. A personal mobile device provides a unique link between my digital and physical me (there is a long history that links my mobile device to my identity). For the web, it supports an out of band channel that considerably adds to the security of the verification process. From a privacy and control standpoint, the mobile phone enables a user-centric approach where the user can approve the transfer of her personal information (a sort of out of band OAUTH dance). Last but not least, location (somewhere I am) may prove of strategic importance, since an embedded GPS can correlate the proofing event to a verifiable personal location (e.g. my home). Location verification for proofing could happen "just in time" or as a post-process step. In any case, it would greatly strengthen the overall process.
There is little doubt that the combination of wireless data and handset constitute a unique recipe for enabling high-assurance identity proofing systems. The OIX will soon get to the bottom of this theory since it has recently announced the formation of a working group for telecom data. Early next month, OIX members will explore the development of a trust framework that would support the secure exchange of identity data between MNOs and relying parties while ensuring the privacy and trust of consumers. This could well be a significant step towards high-scale, high-assurance identity systems. So, good luck to new working group; we will be watching closely.