ID verification war heats up as giants vie for piece of growing pie

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ID verification war heats up as giants vie for piece of growing pie

A screen capture of the vaccine booking process. Starting on Aug. 9, people could verify their ID by using various more channels such as Naver, Kakao and PASS. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

A screen capture of the vaccine booking process. Starting on Aug. 9, people could verify their ID by using various more channels such as Naver, Kakao and PASS. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

 
Competition among digital ID verification service providers is growing fierce as the market is promising a digitally-transformed post-pandemic society.
 
After the online certificate authentication system — a system used for decades at government websites and for online banking — lost official status in December last year, private companies have been vying the take the leading spot.
 
PASS, a digital ID authentication application run by KT, SK Telecom and LG U+, is in the lead in terms of users. It had 35 million users as of Aug 22, after having 30 million in June last year. The figure is close to Korea’s working-age population of 35.8 million.
 
The online vaccine registration system has been a plus for the companies. It crashed in July due to a surge of people trying to log in, and the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency allowed people to verify their identity via various channels, including PASS, Naver and Kakao, starting with registration for people 18 to 49 on Aug. 9. According to the mobile carriers, some 12 million people used the PASS application between Aug. 9 and 22.  
 
Naver and Kakao are also rapidly strengthening their business. Kakao had 18 million people using its digital ID certificate by end of July. After being added to the vaccine booking system, it had a total of 20 million users as of Aug. 17, up 11 percent over some two weeks.
 
“We aim to have over 25 million users by end of year,” said Yeo Min-soo, co-CEO of Kakao.  
 
Naver had 12 million users in end of July, but now has 16 million users as of August, up 33.3 percent.  
Banking application Toss and mobile payment system application Payco offer similar services, as well as KB Kookmin Bank.
 
Companies are ramping up competition to gain more users as the business is both highly profitable and gives them a lead in a new market. The three mobile carriers are known to earn an annual fee of some 60 billion won ($51 million) from the digital ID certification business.  
 
“The mobile carriers receive 30 to 40 won for every time their authentication system is used,” said an official from the digital ID certification business. “If there is a rapid drive for digitization of everyday life, the number of authentication cases could increase.”
 
A digital driver's license on the PASS application. [SK TELECOM]

A digital driver's license on the PASS application. [SK TELECOM]

 
Allowing companies to tap into the blockchain market is another plus as digital IDs as certifications are stored via blockchain to ensure security. PASS signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Police Agency in June last year, being the first platform in Korea with a digital driver’s license service on an application.  
 
For Naver, their new target is university students. The company recently signed an MOU with Yonsei University in May to develop a system for students to log in to their university portals and check daily attendance via Naver’s ID verification system. The company plans to make a digital student ID card that students can use to prove their enrollment status, borrow books and access school facilities.
 
 
 
 
 

BY KWEN YU-JIN, LEE TAE-HEE [lee.taehee@joongang.co.kr]
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