Identity is (still) the new money

Something interesting popped up on LinkedIn recently after I’d mentioned that I was experimenting with a newsletter. I called the newsletter “Identity is the New Money” after my book of the same name. (I probably should have called the newsletter “Identity is still the New Money” to reflect the passage of time, although I am happy to report that, despite being written some years ago, the book still sells a few copies here and there!)

Anyway, this led to someone asking me where the book title had come from. I wish I could take the credit, but I’m afraid the cat has long been out of the bag, so to speak. On 18th September 2008, I posted this on the Consult Hyperion blog: “If, as Sir James Crosby said in his report on the U.K. ID card scheme, ‘identity is the new money’, then banks should already have generated strategic plans to accumulate the former, now that they’ve run out of the latter.”

Yes, I first hear the phrase from Sir James Crosby. For the teenagers here, I should explain that many years ago when Gordon Brown was the Chancellor of the Exchequer he appointed Sir James Crosby to carry out a review of the subject of identity cards. As you will recall, this was (and still is) a sensitive issue in the UK, where countless millions of quid have been wasted on various aborted ID initiatives.

I was at the time a member of the Home Office’s Advisory Forum and was interviewed by Sir James and his team. He was an experienced banker and well-informed and as far as I can recall had a good team supporting him and had a reasonable understanding of the issues, which is presumably why the government pretty much ignored his report and its recommendations.

(I remember going along in person to the then-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s presentation of the governments plans to have a national ID card in place by 2017 at which I sat next to Meg Hillier, the then-Minister for ID cards, on the very day that the Crosby report was simultaneously published and put to one side.)

In that final report, Sir James had accused the government of adopting an “uncoordinated” approach to the problem of identity assurance. How different things are now, however, with the recent announcement that the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has decided to create an interim governing body for digital identities to be known as the Office for Digital Identities and Attributes (ODIA). Surely it won’t take another 14 years before I can open a bank account using my government digital identity, will it?

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