As we do more things online, the issue of identity theft becomes an increasingly serious problem. Is that really me buying whatever it is? Is that really a luscious 20-something blonde I am chatting up?
But the issue of identity theft is more serious than that awful Jason Bateman movie I saw the other week.
Fortunately, the New Zealand government appears to have an answer.
This week, NZ Post launched RealMe, which it hopes will crack the online authentication problem.
The service involves users giving their mobile phone number, user name, and password to the service. Photos are taken, too, which are then checked against passport records.
Organisations wanting to use two-factor authentication can also send text messages to users to further prove their identity when accessing a service online.
RealMe is free to users, and is said to be far more user friendly than the old iGovt system it replaced.
The government plans to use RealMe for a growing number of service offerings, and it hopes that private organisations, like banks and insurance companies, adopt RealMe, to save them from having to develop their own authentication systems.
Because it is a government-led project, there are high hopes for RealMe to gain the trust of the wider public, which should make its use more commonplace. This is despite the government having recent problems with data leakage and project failure. Questions have also been raised about the potential risks of hacking.
What NZ Post charges private organisations for using the service should also help recoup the millions of dollars of investment from the taxpayer. RealMe should provide NZ Post with a new source of revenue to help offset declining postal volumes.
RealMe looks to be a far more convenient system than having to trail around to various places in person. Call me old fashioned, but I still think I would rather go see the bank manager in person when I finally apply for a mortgage, though.
However, the choice is there, and if RealMe makes things easier in many areas, which it appears to, then it can only be a good thing.