The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

SIBOS: What is Banks’ role in identity

SIBOS is an interesting meeting each year where the lemmings look for the cliff to race off to. I don’t say that with animosity but with reality where we have several thousand largely paid employees who are tired of the daily payment grind, and looking for clarity on whats next.

So when the senior folks at banks start talking about identity as a service one has to yawn. I recall discussions and analysis about this potential service in 1998 in Chicago while I was at mbanx. The obvious analogy between the bank vault containing cash and a vault containing your identity is strong but not yet conclusive for banks almost 20 years later.

The view from Sibos: Banks in danger of letting digital identity opportunity pass them by

Digital identity is, “the bank’s opportunity to lose”, noted Barclays Bank’s chief data officer, Usama Fayyed, during a well-attended panel session on Tuesday where he pushed banks to innovate faster and seize the day.

Fayyed and other panellists, including Sean Gilchrist, managing director, commercial digital from Lloyds Bank, identified established social networks and technology vendors as the most probable sources of competition. The spectre of the threat from Apple, Facebook and Google was inevitably raised.

The concept of identity is deeply embedded in technology and standards such as OAuth and cloud to name only two. Banks are so far from this work in where they have been focussed for the last 20 years of internet so I just dont see it.

I would go further and suggest the vault which is embedded in each branch is the wrong model for identity. Identity is focussed on several diverse components (drivers license, social security, credit cards, loans, mortgages, land registry, etc) all of which are external to the bank. Banks don’t issue identity. Identity is not a physical thing to be deposited into a vault.

Banks are users of identity, not issuers nor keepers of identity. This horse has left the barn.

Written by Colin Henderson

October 13, 2015 at 23:08

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Couldn’t agree more, Colin. The statement “Digital identity is the bank’s opportunity to lose” is the kind of thinking that leads organizations like the United States Postal Service to believe that because they deliver physical mail, email is their “opportunity to lose.”

    Ron Shevlin

    October 14, 2015 at 06:52

  2. I think there’s a third role, which banks can still fill: CONFIRMER of identity. Credit bureaus are doing this today, and even telcos. No reason banks couldn’t provide the same.

    Dan Dickinson

    October 14, 2015 at 11:22

    • That could be interesting especially if certain identity elements could be securely and opaquely shared and compared between institutions. Some way to develop a comprehensive identity picture that no one institution can see but does contribute toward.

      Colin Henderson

      October 14, 2015 at 16:00


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