Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Australia Post Digital Identity Service Rescued by Chinese Shoppers After Failure 20 Years Ago?

Australia Post Digital Identity
announcement from 1998
Stuart Robert, Minister for Government Services, announced 24 July 2019 that Australia Post’s Digital iD service had been accredited as a trusted identity service provider under the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF). What the Minister did not mention, was Australia Post's previous digital identity service failed 20 years ago. But Daigou might provide the use case for the new service.

In 1998 I applied for an Australia Post "KeyPOST" digital certificate, at a cost of $20. Here is the text from the Australia Post web page of the time:
"Australia Post plays a role in introducing security and trust into transactions performed over the internet. It does this by providing the public (individuals and organisations) with a convenient access point to acquire a digital certificates. KeyPOST is an identity check performed on behalf Certification Authorities.
Digital certificates are now available via the KeyPOST Registration Service, from SecureNet Certificates (SNC). Information and application details for Certification Services provided by SNC are available on the SecureNet Certificates website:"
From "KeyPost",  Australia Post, in the Internet Archive, 20 May 2000
There were a few glitches with the process, but eventually the certificate was issued. However, Australia Post ceased the service the following year. There appeared to have been very few certificates issued and the manual processing required to issue them was unlikely to have covered the cost.
"Australia Post has decided to cease its KeyPOST(tm) operations concerning the generation of private keys and certificates from 1 August 1999. Unfortunately, the service has not met expectations and its growth and take up rate have been less than what we expected.  I would like to thank you for your support and interest in the service, but >it has become increasingly clear that the service is not commercially  viable."
From Keypost 1/04/99

Chinese Daigou Use Case

The daigou channel, by Bang Xiao  &
Sean Mantesso, ABC News, 31 Jul 2019

Hopefully, those at Australia Post planning the new digital identity service have learned from the previous failed service. A use case which might make the new service a success is the multi-billion dollar personal shopper business. Chinese consumers contract 150,000 personal shoppers in Australia (daigou), who are mostly Chinese students, to buy products for them. The Australia Post Digital iD could be used to authenticate the personal shoppers, perhaps in combination with a blockchain. The consumers could be assured who is doing the buying, and they were getting the correct product. The governments could be assured all taxes and duty were being paid.

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