DoCoMo say that the phones can function as an e-wallet and personal identification card. Digital money and digital identity in one small package. As a number of people mentioned at the Digital Identity Forum, right now it’s difficult to see a more suitable or practical device than the mobile phone. Which is why recurrent stories about the "digital divide" seem to miss the point. Who cares whether 44% of UK households don’t use the web and of those more than 70% say they have little or no intention of getting connected. All of those households have mobile phones and a great many of them have digital television as well. These people would, I’m sure, much rather use their mobile phone as an ID card than have yet another card in their pockets. Despite the slow progress from initiatives such as Radicchio (now part of the Liberty Alliance), it can only be a matter of time before people who need strong identification and authentication services will begin to standardise on mobile phones for the delivery of such services. Oh wait….
Of course, there are ways to use mobile phones to support stronger authentication now, without biometrics or anything else special. An obvious example is the use of one-time passwords (OTPs) sent by SMS that are requested by consumers each time they want to perform transactions. This how our intranet works: if you’re using a machine that doesn’t have the relevant CHYP certificate, you can type in your name and our system will send an OTP to your mobile if you are an authorised person. This gets you on to the intranet for half an hour. Simple.