Banks fear ID cards have lost useful features

Banks fear ID cards have lost useful features

Summary: The UK financial services industry has expressed concerns that security features which would have made the card useful in certain financial transactions have been stripped from the scheme

TOPICS: Security

While the Home Office is hoping ID cards will one day be used for everything from claiming benefits to opening bank accounts, the UK financial services industry has its doubts over how useful the cards will prove.

The UK payments association Apacs — whose members includes the UK's major high-street banks — is worried that security features which would have made the card useful for checking identity in large money transfers and online transactions have been stripped from the scheme.

Head of security for Apacs Colin Whittaker told a conference hosted by the BCS Security Forum yesterday: "Some of the features we were expecting in the ID card are not going to be present for the foreseeable future.

"There's nothing in the middle tech range which is where a lot of the user case scenarios — particularly in the financial sector — are going to give more value. For example, doing a high-value cash withdrawal, a counter-based withdrawal, where a financial institution asks you to put the ID card in a reader, checks it's a valid card and takes a PIN."

He added: "The online capabilities that we were hoping were going to be present are unlikely to be there for the foreseeable future."

According to the Home Office, it is important not to overcomplicate the card with too many features.

Speaking at the same event, identity minister Meg Hillier said: "If you try and lay too much on something then you risk overwhelming it and making it too complex.

"You risk the core and the core is that we have an ID register that is safe and links an individual to their ID."

Apacs's Whittaker questioned whether the ID scheme's expense will outweigh its usefulness. "I have some grave concerns as to whether we are going to get the services we want at a cost that is going to be meaningful," he said.

Barclaycard too has reservations over where the cards can be used in financial services. Richard Mould, head of card innovation at Barclaycard, told the conference: "We are a commercial sector. I need to think 'is there a product, a service that I can charge for and that my customers want?'. I have not witnessed any yet."

Mould said Barclays is happy with the PINsentry card reader that it uses to secure its own online transactions and currently sees no reason to switch to using ID cards.

Apacs meanwhile would like a "simple" and "elegant" electronic way to prove the authenticity of the ID card using cryptography, similar to that used in existing credit and debit cards. It also wants some form of PIN-based verification to be useable with the cards, Whittaker said.

Topic: Security


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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  • Another one bites the dust

    So yet another sector that the Home Office were holding up as being the reason for having an ID card has gone by the wayside. We know, because even ministers agree, that the UK ID card scheme won't stop terrorism. Other responsible bodies have agreed that it also won't stop identity theft (it will likely make it worse in fact), or benefits cheating or illegal immigration, organised crime, pavement fouling (that's a job for anti-terrorist laws) or even fraudulent library loans.

    The only thing stopping the Home Office from getting up on their hind legs and admitting that the whole scheme is a complete waste of public funds, is their ever present arrogance. They simply cannot admit that they are human, and therefore fallible and have indeed made a monumental booboo on this one.
    Andrew Meredith
  • Id cards will not work - we live in a free country

    I am surprised banks ever thought ID cards would work. In a few years time the government would make it compulsory to carry ID Cards. Therefore, I will not carry one. I was born in a free country (thanks to a previous generation). This governent is using the excuse of terrorism to introduce restricive laws (2003 Licencing Act which makes protest harder; DNA database; more CCTVs per head than any other country etc etc.).
  • Condemned from the start

    The whole issue of the ID card is condemned from the start and is no way likely to succeed as is the norm with anything the Home Office runs. It will be watered down again and again to cut costs until it becomes so ineffective that it is no more than a glorified driving licence. (And we all know about driving licences and how simple it is to get one, and another one and so on). The whole cost of ID cards grossly outweighs the advantages and benefits it has been hoped it would confer, rendering it no more than an economic burden.
    If the Government consider it to of use to control welfare benefit payments then it would perhaps be more value if a photo version of it was introduced as a requisite for claiming welfare payments and benefits from DWP and local authorities. The cost of this would doubtless be recouped from the reduction in fraud.