Digital certification platform MyID.is is taking a crack at offering a way for people to claim their real identity online, in order to be able to prevent ID theft and to verify content they publish on their blogs, social networking accounts, photo & video sharing sites, and so on.
Additionally, the site offers (yet another) way to manage your online identity and doubles as a certified OpenID provider. The site has been in alpha testing for the past 8 months and as of yesterday entered into public beta.
This is how it works: you register for a MyID.is Certified account on the website, and enter your personal details, which are later verified by the team (I’ll get to the issues with this later). They do this by cross-checking the name you submitted with the one on your credit card – they’ll charge a fee between $2 and $5 to verify that it is yours, similar to how Google checks your credit card details for an AdSense account – and by sending a 6-digit code to your postal address which you have to enter to verify your identity on their platform. Other than the small setup fee, the service is free of charge.
You get a dedicated MyID.is URL, which looks like this: http://myid.is/charles.nouyrit.id (this is the one of founder and CEO Charles Nouÿrit) and you get some badges which you can place on your blog or social networking profile to show that your identity has been verified by the company (example). The platform also features a number of custom widgets, offering ‘endless possibilities’ to spread your online ID.
It’s an ambitious project, and it’s always nice to see such an initiative coming from Europe.
But the elephant in the room is of course the fact that MyID.is facing the humongous issue of having to convince people to effectively trust them with their private data, credit card details and physical address included (which they explicitly promise never to sell, evidently). I’m sure there are security measures in place, and Nouÿrit says they don’t keep the confidential information and never even gain access to it as it passes through to a sophisticated banking system, but that is really besides the point.
People are still going to need to feel confident about signing up for the service, and I’m not sure how a tiny company based in London is going to be able to reach that level of trust worldwide. Nouÿrit counters by pointing to the fact PayPal needed a couple of years to be widely accepted too, which is a good point but not exactly a wildcard for MyID.is.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of competition for verifying your online identity across the globe, and the solutions we could dig up were fairly expensive. In the U.S., there’s Trufina and BeenVerified.com, and in Finland there’s something like NorthID.com (also see BankID in Sweden).
How do you feel about the concept behind MyID.is Certified?