Interoperability, Commerce and Relying Parties: Discover Joins the FIDO Alliance Board of Directors

One of the strongest driving factors for strong, better-than-password authentication is adequate payment protection. In countries that have popular mobile payment systems like Korea’s Bartong, smartphones and other mobile devices are being launched sporting fingerprint sensors with increasing frequency. Indeed, physical and online mCommerce is a benefit touted by most people with an interest in strong authentication, and it is finally getting to a point where major payment networks and financial service providers are taking an active role in pushing for related universal standards.

To this effect, Discover Financial Services has officially joined the Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) Alliance as a member of the organization’s board of directors.  Discover will share the board with other big names in finance including PayPal and MasterCard.

FIDO Alliance members are dedicated to sharing technology and collaborating in order to forward open specifications for strong universal authentication. The consortium is heavily focused on privacy and fraud prevention, but also places a very strong emphasis on end-user convenience. In the end, FIDO’s ideal world is one where authentication is interoperable, secure and easy to use.

Discover plays an important role on the board of FIDO as a relying party, responsible for providing protocol-ready security solutions to its customers.

Discover’s vice president of authentication and decision infrastructure Daniel Almenara, expands on how the company will fit in with FIDO, saying, “The implementation of a fast and secure authentication method will allow us to both serve our customers and protect their information better, improving the overall customer experience.”

“Discover is committed to the continued improvement of universal authentication standards,” continues Almenara. “We look forward to contributing the resources and expertise to these discussions on stronger authentication and more secure methods.”

This is a big win for FIDO, in a year filled with rapid growth and new big name board members. Just last week, the Alliance announced that Microsoft also joined the board of directors, and since its official formation in February 2013, FIDO  has built up a membership that includes PayPal, Google, Blackberry as well as a growing number of biometrics vendors.

“With our rapidly growing body of members, Discover joins a powerful global ecosystem in bringing open standards for strong authentication to the marketplace for an easier user experience that is more secure and private,” sais FIDO president Michael Barrett. “Their commitment to FIDO authentication will improve millions of Discover users’ experiences, and equip Discover merchants with advanced management controls over risk.”

Recently Barrett presented a webinar with Jamie Cowper of Nok Nok Labs titled The Password is Dead, in which he said that the first FIDO ready devices will be hitting the market in early 2014. With relying parties like Discover on board, it can be expected that strong authentication will be catching on in a mainstream way that hasn’t been seen before.