When it comes to consumer payments, the future is obviously mobile. But the "how" of mobile payments turns out to be rather complicated. I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Annual Conference of the Payments Association of South Africa. Systemic comparison is one key benefit of such an experience. Here we have two resource-driven economies of roughly similar size, similarly large physical distances but markedly different population demographics. The retail payments systems are diverging, rather than converging. This highlights the obvious point that payment systems are shaped by people's habits, not by economics. Consider, for example, some simple comparisons between bank account ownership and mobile phone ownership. According to the World Bank, Australia is one of the most heavily banked populations on earth, with a 99% banking rate in 2012 - that is, 99 out of 100 Australians over the age of 15 had a bank account in 2012. South Africa, by contrast, has a 54% banking rate, and therefore a large community that is still cash-based. Now let's look at mobile phones: the "phoned" rate in Australia is a healthy 106%; in South Africa, 135%. Yes, every person in South Africa has a mobile phone subscription, and every third person has two. If you suspect the interaction of these two comparison pairs leads to different payment evolutions, you would be right.
As part of our work to monitor and interpret international developments, we recently spoke to Jonas Dahlberg, Vice President of Business Development at Nexus Group, to gain his insights into how Sweden’s BankID works and why he thinks so many people have joined the voluntary identity framework.
Nexus Group builds services on top of the popular BankID, allowing companies, banks, and government agencies to authenticate individuals over the internet.
What is BankID?
BankID is a digital identification solution. It provides a secure way for users to authenticate themselves online and is accepted across a range of organisations including banks and government services. It was developed collaboratively by a number of large banks in Sweden in 2003.
Basically, you can think of it as an electronic identity document, similar to a passport or drivers licence, which lets you prove who you are online. More than two thirds of Sweden’s population is on board – about 6.5 million people. BankID is currently the leading electronic identification scheme in Sweden.
With such a high uptake – what benefit does BankID have for consumers?
BankID makes managing digital interactions safer and easier for users. The user only has to remember one login, which can be used across many organisations. It’s much more convenient than remembering multiple passwords and usernames. It’s also much safer for users as their personal information is not stored by multiple organisations; the added security is a huge benefit.
Users can access a range of online services from a range of different organisations using their BankID – online and mobile banking, e-trade, and tax services to name a few.
How does BankID support online commerce?
Back in 2003, customers needed a swipe card and a card reader plugged into their computer to make online transactions. Today, people simply use a mobile or online application. Initially BankID focused on enabling access to financial institutions’ online banking services, however, as the technology advanced, third party suppliers extended use of the identification scheme to other services – for example:
- When making online purchases, the delivery address and banking details can be retrieved from the BankID scheme – the consumer doesn’t need to enter the information manually.
- Documents can be digitally signed using BankID credentials for authentication
- Payment can be made to a BankID via phone number or email – the payer doesn’t need to know the payee’s account number
In the near future, corporate building access may be granted through a customer’s BankID.
For more information, check out https://www.nexusgroup.com/