Mastercard joins Aussie digital ID market with Deakin and Australia Post partnerships

Mastercard has chosen Australia as the launch market for its digital identity platform, announcing two trials with Australia Post and Deakin University.

The company said its new digital service has the potential to verify a person’s identity immediately, safely, and securely in both the digital and the physical world.

“Our increasingly digital life — the way we transact and interact — has challenged our traditional notions of identity, trust, and privacy. We need a new model,” president of cyber and intelligence for Mastercard Ajay Bhalla said.

“We believe that this 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.”

Mastercard said its digital ID model allows the data to sit with the user.

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As the company explained, it will activate a “distributed model” — information stored on an individual’s mobile device and verified by additional reference points, such as an individual’s bank or participating government agencies.

It said this method eliminates the need for a centralised identity database. 

Students from Deakin University used the platform for the identity verification process of student registration and digital exams at the Burwood and Geelong campuses in Victoria.

Meanwhile, a separate partnership with Australia Post will see Mastercard’s new offering be integrated into the postal service’s existing Digital ID solution.

The Australia Post Digital ID was officially launched in 2017. There are a handful of services that accept the identification platform, such as bitcoin.com.au, Coinjar, Airtasker, and Credit Union Australia.

Australia Post’s Digital ID is currently approved for use in Victoria, the Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory.

In Victoria, locals can use the Digital ID as a proof-of-age card to enter a pub, using an on-screen animation that prevents replication and creates a temporary QR code that can be scanned to verify age.

People in the Northern Territory cannot use it to purchase takeaway alcohol, however.

AusPost in July received “trusted identity service provider” accreditation for its digital identity solution from the federal government. It’s the second of two accredited identity providers, with the first being myGovID, handled by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The postal service recently entered the conversation about how the nation should go about verifying the age of an individual before allowing them to watch pornographic material online or participate in online wagering, putting forward its own digital identity solution as a suggestion.

The government-owned agency promoted Digital ID as providing a suitable option for verification.

The Department of Home Affairs has floated using its Face Verification Service and Document Verification Service to verify an individual’s age before allowing them access to online pornographic material. 

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), meanwhile, agrees with Australia Post in that the Australian government’s digital identity play would instead be a valuable tool to do the same, but Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has since said there is no “out of the box technology solutions” that would solve this issue and therefore believes age verification should not be seen as a panacea.

Meanwhile, the former head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), former eSafety Commissioner, and now chief strategy officer at CyberCX, Alastair MacGibbon, believes that any form of online age verification would require a biometric component.

Mastercard said additional partnerships and pilots will be introduced across a number of markets next year.

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