Payfone, EnStream look to eliminate passwords with global federated digital identity platform for Canada

Digital identity authentication provider Payfone has partnered with the largest telecommunications companies in Canada to create a next-generation mobile federated authentication service — one that will allow users to log into online services with a single app on their phone.

The service will initially launch in Canada and will be backed by participating mobile providers from EnStream, which is a joint venture of the country’s top wireless providers: Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications, and TELUS Communications.

The new partnership will see EnStream’s Mobile Connect solution brought together with Payfone’s Trust Score identity and fraud analytics solution. The end result will replace passwords and two-factor authentication with a new mobile ID service.

“Consumers have too many passwords, or re-use the ones they have too many times, increasing the risk of identity theft and account takeovers by hackers,” Payfone Chief Executive Rodger Desai said. “Two-factor authentication helps, but it’s clumsy and complicated, and doesn’t really deal with the underlying problem— passwords. Wouldn’t it be great if online identity worked like credit cards — ultra-convenient and trusted by everyone, everywhere?”

The system will automatically secure its online connections if a user’s phone is reported lost or stolen, and it will not store any personally identifiable information on the phone itself. Users will also have information and control over where and how their digital identities are utilized.

Payfone and EnStream first announced their collaboration in April when it was revealed that Payfone would bring its digital identity services to Canada. The company is on track to authenticate 19 billion transactions in 35 global markets in 2018.

Together, the wireless providers behind EnStream cover over 90 percent of citizens in Canada. EnStream Chief Identity Officer Robert Blumenthal said he believes logging in via smartphone will one day be as ubiquitous as making payments with a credit card.

“It has to be much easier to use and much more secure than SMS passcodes to be trusted by online services and consumers alike,” Blumenthal said. “We provide device-based security enabled with a secure PIN or biometrics, enhanced by real-time mobile network verification and fraud analytics to protect your identity.”

OWI Insight: Smartphones are ubiquitous, they’re always on us, and they’re usually secured with biometrics. Making a user’s phone the primary source of identity Authentication is a logical progression and smart use of existing technology. Leaders like Payfone will push to establish an industry standard for Authentication via mobile platforms, and having the backing of Canada’s biggest wireless providers will go a long way in giving it a foothold in The Great White North.