station with train exiting

The reusable identity train has left the station

Reusable identities will be vital tools supporting identity verification, but how they work is yet to be determined. 

A key player will likely be AU10TIX, a global identity services provider based in Israel, when they arrive. AU10TIX provides critical, modular solutions to verify and link physical and digital identities. Its proprietary technology generates results in less than eight seconds.

AU10TIX, Microsoft, partnering on Reusable ID

It also helps to have Microsoft on your side. AU10TIX and Microsoft have partnered to develop Reusable ID, which they believe will be a breakthrough in verifiable credentials for identity management. The ID will be an unalterable digital credential stored locally in a tamper-proof digital wallet. It proves a person’s or entity’s identity while allowing the safe sharing of sensitive data with third parties.

Deepak Marda headshot
Deepak Marda

Microsoft’s Entra Verified ID will power reusable ID. Banking and financial institutions will experience much simpler and faster ID verification, automated workflows, better security, and reduced customer onboarding. It builds on the companies’ 2021 work that produced Microsoft Azure Active Directory verifiable credentials. 

“Microsoft plans to include the Reusable ID technology in its third-party onboarding flow to streamline repeated validation of user identity verification at critical steps while preventing fraudulent activity and ensuring regulatory compliance,” said Deepak Marda, senior product manager at Microsoft.

“Decentralized ID verification is a key imperative in the digital world, and the AU10TIX solution will increase security while reducing friction in online ID verification.” 

How AU10TIX developed its identity technology

AU10TIX co-founder and acting chairman Ron Atzmon said the company isn’t your typical startup. Its technology originated in airport security with ICP, which was used for passenger screening. After security in American airports was nationalized in the early 2000s, Atzmon’s family took over ICP.

As they looked for ways to make screening more efficient, they learned that the research and development wing was doing great work that could easily extend to compliance and KYC. As fintechs started popping up a few years later, companies asked if AU10TIX’s on-prem processes could be replicated online. They could, and that opened up a whole new world.

The battle for identity ownership

Atzmon said consumers are waking up to the reality that companies are getting rich from their data. They want to choose what they share and with whom. 

That opens up an important ethical issue: who owns your identity? Identity is one of the components of what makes a country, Atzmon reasons. That means governments won’t let individuals control their identities. It’s what killed Facebook’s Libra, he said.

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The best we can hope for is for governments to let us choose whom we share our identities. To work globally, there must be consensus on standards and sharing. The European experience shows how hard that is.

Perhaps there are better places to start than banking and finance. There are compliance challenges and many unknowns, Atzmon reasons. Folks need a higher level of assurance than they would in gaming.

Government consensus is only one of many issues, Atzmon said. Who wants governments to know how much alcohol or marijuana they buy?

Microsoft partnership on a long track

Atzmon stressed that this Microsoft partnership is only weeks old. There will be plenty of trial and error along the way. The Reusable ID train has left the station, but it’s a long ride.

Microsoft built ION, which is designed to advance decentralized identity. Its infrastructure will store identity components ins a distributed but secure way. AU10TIX will be the authenticator. When logging in, users access their authenticator, which is stored on their devices. It confirms their identity. Perhaps it connects with past verifications for additional proof.

Ron Atzmon headshot
AU10TIX and Microsoft are in the early stages of a partnership that could be a game changer for digital identity management, Ron Atzmon said.

“We’re like the stamp in the passport,” Atzmon said.

The essential nut to crack is to make the process simple and easy. That is the only route to mass adoption, Atzmon said. There were devices before the iPhone, but Steve Jobs built a better mousetrap.

So how does Atzmon make Reusable ID an Apple-level experience? That comes further down the track.

“To be honest, I don’t think we’re there yet. We haven’t tested, and we don’t understand the challenges. These are early, early days, and it’s baby steps.”

Like many tech developments that started in lower-risk areas like gaming, maybe Reusable ID cuts its teeth in one of those areas where governments have few worries. Somehow, the potential of Big Brother watching must be addressed before mass consumer adoption can take root.

“Will it happen?” Atzmon asked. “Yes. When will it happen? I don’t know. 

“Has the train left the station? Yes. There’s technology, but there’s no standard. Let’s play with it and try different use cases.”

  • Tony Zerucha

    Tony is a long-time contributor in the fintech and alt-fi spaces. A two-time LendIt Journalist of the Year nominee and winner in 2018, Tony has written more than 2,000 original articles on the blockchain, peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding, and emerging technologies over the past seven years. He has hosted panels at LendIt, the CfPA Summit, and DECENT's Unchained, a blockchain exposition in Hong Kong. Email Tony here.