057 – Digital Identity Show – Topic – Digital Identity – Guest – Mark DiFraia

Satish: Welcome to the Digital Identity Show and I’m your host Satish KARRY. Today, on our show, we have Mark DiFraia. Mark who has forged an exciting leadership in identity market, and he led the introduction of numerous new services and technologies across both financial securities and identity industries. He is renowned as an innovator and a get-it-done leader within the identity space.Welcome to the show, Mark. How are you?

Mark: I’m great, thanks for having me.

Satish: Mark, you’ve been working in the digital identity space for quite some time and now I see you moving to a role that is a bit more responsible; you have a lot more responsibility on your shoulders at Kuma. I wanted to understand the motive behind the move and what made you think about the move and how is it going so far?

Mark: So far, it’s been great. Kuma has been a great company, very much in the middle of what’s happening right now with privacy, cyber security and now with me coming over, we’re standing up our digital identity practice and that really came about because the last handful of years I’ve been working with a company called IDEMIA. They were also called Morpho Trust or Idemia Identity Solutions in years past. In prior acquisitions. In those roles I led the introduction of mobile drivers license and some online identity credentials to market that were largely based on the identity proofing that is done when a drivers license is issued to an individual, except ported over and used in a digital domain, with biometrics, document authentication and possession of device factors included.

The thing that really stood out to me this last 12-18 months has been that there is an escalation in excitement about trying to bring the DMV’s into this digital ecosystem but they could use a bit of help. That was one of the main drivers for me coming over to Kuma was to try to help stand up an advisory service where we could go partner up with them, help them make sure they understand the basics of what the digital ecosystem is going to look like, where they fit in it, what all the players look like, what their roles are, what the economics of the situation would be so that they can very proactively seat themselves where they want to be strategically in that world, because they are becoming very much the target of interest from banks and lots of other folks that are trying to increase identity assurance on the digital side of things.

There are some things going on in the commercial side too that we will probably talk about during the call. That was probably the thing that led the most to my desire to move over, was to see this done correctly and make sure that these guys had what they needed to do a great job and execute it with confidence.

Satish: That leads to my next question. You talk about the public sector, the DMV trying to push digital identity. How are things on the commercial side? Most of the time commercial is a bit different and a fast-paced execution compared to the DMV. What are your views on the commercial side of things?

Mark: There’s a couple of things happening. On the commercial side I’m seeing two different sides of the equation. There are some that operate commercial businesses over the digital space. Whether it’s a website or mobile apps or what have you, and they have a need to increase the level of assurance of the identities of the customers that they were tracking, but they don’t want to give up customer transition for identity assurance and give up conversion rates. They don’t want to lose customers to friction.

They’re starting to look for more edgy technologies that are easier for people to use but take them up the ladder a bit higher. They’re interested in consuming technologies, but there are some others, there are some great examples of the banking community especially where folks that have done a good job of proofing identities so far actually see a market for bringing their credentials to the market for online players as the way of easing the onboarding of a new customer, allowing them to sign into a web portal without creating a new account and ultimately transacting faster, easier, better with more assurance than other web portals. You’re kind of seeing the grassroots or the ground level of this ecosystem starting to come together because there are some that want to provide a credential to people to use for multiple purposes and then some of them are looking for ones to consume.

Whilst we are helping the DMV’s figure out how they want to participate, there are these folks on the commercial side that are also doing things as well. They are going to cross over; many of them are working to figure out how would DMV’s, and what those identities can bring to the table, fit into the overall equation.We are going to try to work with all of those folks to help them track their course and figure out what is the right mix for each one of their groups.

Satish: That makes a lot of sense. Mark, when you look at all these factors and forces in the digital identity world, there is the commercial side offered and then there is the federal size. If you were to put your industry hat on, can you point us to any developmental areas where you have most frustrated or energized by the changes which are happening in that area?

Mark: For sure, The one thing that I’m sensitive to, and it’s unique to the vantage point that I’ve had, working with the identity proofing and digital side of state government and with DMV’s specifically, I’m sensitive to the fact that they are being squeezed at the moment. There is a movement right now to bring mobile phone based drivers licenses to the market. A number of states have issues going on, either for pilot or bringing some of those into production. What happens there, through legislative force, the Governor’s office, other states applying pressure, there is a growing wave of interest for DMV’s to get into the digital side of things more quickly. There are other groups that are looking to leverage the proofed identities of the DMV in different ways, for more transactional verification services.

Just recently the Better Identity Coalition published a paper that was circulated around Washington D.C. and was highlighting the need to sponsor some investment to help the DMV’s become transactionally available in much of the same way you are hearing social security administration becoming available for identity verification.

I’m particularly sensitive because, while we are all excited about what the DMV can mean to the online digital world from an identity assurance perspective, they have a very tough job to do every day, and they have a number of different folks that they are accountable to. They need to make this move without making the lines longer for existing drivers license service. They have to be conscious not to have people tied up in the system or have customer service lag because they are starting to shift and thinking about digital.

They’ve got a really tough job to do and not necessarily will they always get new resources, new people or a new budget to do it. I think there is an opportunity for us to lend a hand and help them out but that’s certainly a source of some frustration as I recognized it being pushed and urged to move forward in this way and they’ve got a lot of concerns to balance in order to make that happen.

Satish: Sounds very interesting. I totally agree with you there and I think it’s a valid point that you have made. Mark, in your opinion, what is the market missing today? What is being overlooked or undervalued?

Mark: I think the number one thing undervalued on the market today is the value of in-person identity proofing. It’s expensive. We’ve talked a lot about DMV on this call, and I apologize for being a little heavy in that area but I did gravitate there because thE DMV’s do a fantastic job of identity proofing for the largest demographic of Americans. Folks that drive an automobile have a state ID and have been through their proofing of that. With more states becoming real ID compliant, the proofing of that has only gotten stronger. I’ve always believed there’s a rightful place for that kind of proofing in all of our digital lives if we could broker it properly. Unfortunately, it’s expensive for other groups to go ahead and do that.

You are seeing the marketplace flooded with authentication tools; authenticators that can biometric verification or a device, ID verification or a number of other things. I think the market sometimes forgets how important it is that somebody, some organization, links the physical human to all of these factors that are proofing about that we can all trust. Then we can do business through it on an ongoing basis because if you have an under-proofed identity that you apply these factors to, you don’t always have the assurance level that they ever really belonged to that person in the first place.

It’s expensive, it’s time consuming, but if we’re going to get digital light, it’s got to be there and that’s an investment the market just has to absorb and get over the hump of absorbing.

Satish: Okay, Our last question, thank you for sharing some of your perspectives and motivations with us today. I’m sure our listeners will enjoy hearing these views and may even have questions for you directly. Now that we have heard how you feel about the topics we covered today, can you share what you and your organization Kuma is offering to address some of these issues.

Mark: Sure, absolutely.Kuma is a very unique company because as partners, we share a very common background that was rooted in the principles that first were published in the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in cyberspace. Those are that the identity solutions that we’re migrating to should be secure, resilient, privacy-enhancing, cost-effective, easy-to-use and interoperable.

In order for us to solve the challenges that we’re all experiencing with identity theft, identity fraud, the risks associated with all of that, transacting in the digital world. We have to get these things correct and one of the main reasons why I joined the group, because I know we are all like-minded in that way. Now as a team, we are equipped to work from the cyber-security side, the privacy side, all the way through privacy engineering. Now with identity proofing authentication and verification, in a way that we can coach organizations on helping them devise their own strategies so that they can proactively place themselves in this market the way they want to be, by understanding completely what’s going on around them and then helping them all the way down the path of executing.

We talked a bit about advisory services, but some of this will also include helping organizations actually build out their community. As I’m seeing, especially on the commercial side, those that are issuing credentials aren’t trying to solve everybody’s problem at once, their are pockets of relying parties or participating websites that fit best with what their user group is all about. We’re going to try to play the role of matchmaker and help these folks build those communities while we also educate, advise and certify in a variety of different areas.

Satish: Thanks a lot, Mark, for being on our show and sharing some of your perspectives on the distal light entity. I wish you a great week ahead and we will be in touch soon.

Mark: Great, thanks so much for having me and I’ll look forward to maybe some questions from your listeners.