14/11/2011

By James Varga, CEO of miiCard

The world is wired and in the UK alone the internet contributes 7.2% to GDP and is outpacing normal GDP growth. Over the next three years it is expected to hit 10% to 13% of GDP, further positioning it as the biggest single component of the UK’s GDP. But there is a clear challenge to this continued growth ahead — trust.

We trust people we can see in front of us, and we trust the physical identity documents they can show us. Not being able to fully trust someone we cannot see online limits how we interact with them. This means that we can’t apply and get approved entirely online for a mortgage, bank loan or credit card and we are cautious about buying expensive items because there is a high risk of fraud.

But trust in today’s digital world does not just affect the individual: it is critical to the development of many online sectors from social networks and online dating to financial services, ecommerce and even auction sites.

In order to do more online we need to support higher value transactions, and this involves creating a level of trust that is absent today. We need to know who we are dealing with, and that they are who they say they are, in order to create new opportunities for us to trade and transact online with speed, convenience and safety.

This level of trust will be a catalyst for a new wave of growth in the Internet — the possibilities are limitless. We could sign documents, agreements and contracts – buy and sell high value items where the risk of anti-money laundering requirements prohibit us — and we can even create mutual trust with the people we meet online to make these experiences richer.
So, what can SME’s do today to help create trust?

Smart SMEs are looking to implement online identity verification solutions as a means to establish this much needed layer of trust. Many verification services provide traditional ID verification, that is they prove something about the individual such as an address or credit rating. Whilst this provides a reasonable amount of validation, it does not prove that an individual actually is who they say they are.

But for businesses who want or need to know who they are dealing with and take online identity verification to the next level we must find a way of validating customers to an equivalent level of authority that a passport or driving licence carries offline. We need to create a system of trust online to ensure genuine, safe and legal transactions. This is the catalyst that can make buying and selling online faster. And, in the current economic climate anything that can restore a level of trust in the beleaguered markets can only benefit consumers and businesses alike.

SMEs who adopt these new technologies early will benefit from higher sales conversions, lower operational costs, a reduction in fraud and, importantly, increased customer satisfaction. This is clearly a means to get ahead of the competition, and will allow new and smaller businesses to compete with their bigger, more established rivals.

Today, two billion people are connected on the internet and it’s growing by 200 million each year. But the rise in identity theft and online fraud continues to build a barrier between these users, who represent potential customers, and businesses. It’s not enough to do more of the same – we need new and innovative approaches to dealing with these, in terms of Internet years, historic problems.

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