Visa Joins FIDO Alliance

Visa Inc. has joined the FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance's board of directors to help develop and deploy stronger online authentication standards.

Visa Europe will join the alliance as a sponsor member represented on the board through Visa Inc. Discover and MasterCard joined the alliance late last year.

Visa's participation in FIDO complements its work with MasterCard and American Express to replace account numbers with a digital token for online transactions. The payments industry is hyper-aware of security issues in the wake of the holiday-season Target breach and with the expectation that the ongoing shift to EMV-chip cards will move fraud to e-commerce.

"Strong authentication is vitally important as the future of payments becomes increasingly mobile and digital," says Mark Nelsen, head of risk products and business intelligence at Visa, in a May 20 press release. (Visa did not make an executive available for comment by deadline.)

The FIDO Alliance is likely to introduce its implementation specifications in the fall, says FIDO spokesperson Suzanne Matick in an email.

FIDO members currently develop products based on the alliance's review draft specification, which was announced in February and continues to change every day, Matick says. "Our members have access to the up-to-the-minute version of the spec."

Last month, FIDO obtained more technology representation on its board when Samsung Electronics and semiconductor designer ARM joined.

The alliance revealed its first "FIDO Ready" technology earlier this year when Samsung teamed with PayPal, also a FIDO Alliance member, to support fingerprint authentication for consumers who shop with a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone.

FIDO develops specifications that support a range of authentication technologies, including various forms of biometrics. FIDO also plans to incorporate or expand upon existing standards such as Trusted Platform Modules, USB security tokens, embedded secure elements, smart cards, Bluetooth Low Energy and near-field communication.

The open specifications are designed to accommodate future technologies as well as protect existing investments, FIDO says.

This year, Bank of America became the first major bank to join the alliance. Other FIDO members include Google, Microsoft, Blackberry and Lenovo.

Nok Nok Labs, the founding member of the alliance when it was established in 2012, launched its S3 Authentication Suite in February, allowing alliance members use its technology as the foundation for stronger authentication methods.

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