Digital identity profession (yes, it is one) now has a guild

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Digital identity, a horizontal discipline that slices across countless industries, not least of all financial services, now has its own professional organization.

Ian Glazer, the senior director of identity at the cloud computing giant Salesforce, announced the formation of IDPro this week. The group will help identity management professionals connect, compare notes and meet up in their areas.

Enabling peers to compare notes will help such professionals working at regional, midtier banks, Glazer said. They face the same requirements as large banks, but command smaller operating budgets, and don’t always have the luxury to hire a big consulting firm or analyst.

“I think you look for other creative solutions and that means looking to your peers. I think there’s going to be a great deal of benefit there,” he said.
Glazer said he is securing 10 corporate members, and three companies have signaled their support. One of them is SecureKey Technologies, a Canadian outfit backed by that country’s banks, which allows consumers to log in to government websites using their banking credentials.

“With this increasing role that identity is playing in our economy, where we see where everyone in our life wants to know who you are, we need to professionalize this trade, so we’re working on a common set of knowledge and principles and best practices,” said Andre Boysen, the chief identity officer at SecureKey.

Broadly defined, identity management professionals identify people in a system and control their access through user rights and restrictions. In enterprise IT, they establish and manage roles and access privileges of individual users. These systems also provide administrators with tools and technology to change users’ roles, track activity and enforce policies.

But identity represents a bigger problem — and, some say, a bigger opportunity — than just employee access management, and financial institutions are in the thick of it. Anti-money-laundering regulations require them to thoroughly vet customers, but collecting so much personal information makes banks juicy targets for hackers, offends the privacy-conscious, and complicates efforts to serve the underbanked. Banks have to authenticate customers logging in to protect their accounts from fraudsters, but security measures can frustrate consumers, particularly those who grew up with instant gratification from the internet.

A range of startups and open-source software projects with varying degrees of ambition are attempting to square these circles. And some banks are also trying to be part of the solution. In May, for example, Capital One debuted new digital identity products to monetize the work it already does screening customers.

The multibillion-dollar identity management industry was long overdue for an organization like this, Glazer said. He said he wanted to create a way for them to find one another so that they don’t feel isolated. In Germany, for example, there were no meet-ups for identity professionals, though two of the members lived only about six miles from each other.

“The value to me is identity professionals will now have a way to meet with one another, get advice from one another, to know that they’re not alone in doing what they’re trying to do in their industry or their geography and may be struggling with it,” Glazer said.

When Glazer floated the idea of a professional organization last year, four hundred individuals pledged to join, and so far 100 have done so.

“I’m incredibly heartened by that because it shows not only did we have a year ago, people thinking, ‘Yeah this seems like a good idea, keep in touch,’ to now people actually putting their money where their mouth is and saying ‘I want to join, I want to help and I want to find a way to give back,’ ” Glazer said.

Next year, he said, he wants to start a general certification process.

Aside from Salesforce, IDPro’s founding corporate members include Ping Identity, SailPoint and Gigya,

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