MyID.is

MyID.is

This is one of those ideas that made me go: golly, why didn’t I think of that? It solves a very fundamental problem in this world, is dirt cheap and is extremely easy to develop and deploy.

MyID is an OpenID provider. I have written about OpenID in the past. It is a platform for on-line identity authentication. It is used by a large number of people, including Google and Yahoo (Microsoft is looking into it).

Most importantly, the implementation is extremely simple and there are already numerous pieces of software written for it. So, developing an OpenID provider is something that should just take minutes to do.

However, MyID.is put a twist on it by tying the on-line identities to real-world identities. So, you need to prove whom you pretend to be on-line. It does this by tying everything down to a credit card, ala Paypal.

When you register, you need to provide it with your name, a credit card number and a real-world address. They then charge you a random nominal fee of between €2 to €5 and they mail you a secret key via snail mail. To verify your identity, you need to enter the secret key and the amount they charged you on your card.

In one fell swoop, they have just tied your on-line identity to your credit card. This means that you can prove who you say you are and if necessary, criminals can be tracked down.

Obviously, there are privacy issues involved but users are not giving out more information than we normally do whenever we go shopping online. Since they use OpenID, the on-line identity can be immediately used on numerous sites.

Of course, there is no reason why their business model cannot be replicated. Barrier to entry is virtually non-existent. All that you’ll need is a cheap server, the free OpenID software, a credit-card processor and a printer (for printing the secret keys). Nothing could be simpler plus it can all be automated.

Anyone interested in starting one up themselves?

PS: My head has already churned out a number of value-added services that can be tacked onto this. Golly!

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Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

3 thoughts on “MyID.is”

  1. Cool, thanks for the pointer!

    They need to deal with a few problems, though. Most importantly, there’s this issue: if I would be an OpenID consumer, what should I make of a certification from a certifier I’ve never heard of?

    Also, their site is looking very anonymous so far – a company like this should have their home address printed all over the place – another trust issue.

    Finally, (even) if they get past the trust issues: at 2-5 euro, they’re really putting up too high a barrier of entry. Their success should come from people using a “myid.is”-openid, which automatically advertises their service. So if they manage to pull in a couple of hundred people they might manage to pull in many more in a snowball effect. But that won’t happen if the early adopters have to think twice about the expense… I would stick to the cost price of postage, maybe a tiny bit more – then, if people start using their openid everywhere, you receive a kind of semi-lockin, and they’ll be happy to pay you maybe a euro a year to keep registered, and every now and then they’ll return to re-certify their address…

  2. Agreed. They can work on their trust issue by building it. One way is to get more people to sign up. <1€ would be a suitable sign up fee like how Google/Paypal does things.

  3. They are trying to do a “Paypal”. I think its a great idea. But i think most consumers and partners will hold out to see what the other new/old players are doing.

    And you rightly say that the barrier of entry is so so low. If they did not manage to get significant market share in a short time. So the easiest and fastest thing to do is to get a credible partner and grab market share

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