Mastercard and Microsoft are joining forces to tackle the messy business of digital identity verification, vowing to kill off passwords and give people a secure, instant way to verify themselves online with whomever they want, whenever they want.

To verify their identity online, people are still usually dependent on physical or digital proof managed by a central party, whether it’s a passport number, proof of address, driver’s license, user credentials or other means. 

Mastercard says that this dependence places a huge burden on individuals, who have to successfully remember hundreds of passwords for various identities and are increasingly being subjected to more complexity in proving their identity and managing their data.

The payments giant is working with Microsoft to upend this, vowing to create a service that allows individuals to enter, control and share their identity data their way-on the devices they use every day.

The partners have so far offered little detail on their plans, simply saying that Mastercard will create services powered by Microsoft Azure and built in collaboration with leaders in the banking, mobile network operator and government communities.

When it comes to financial services, the firms say that access to a universally-recognised digital identity could improve and speed up the applicant identification process for establishing a new bank account, loan or payment service account. 

Ajay Bhalla, president, cyber and intelligence solutions, Mastercard, says: “Today’s digital identity landscape is patchy, inconsistent and what works in one country often won’t work in another. We have an opportunity to establish a system that puts people first, giving them control of their identity data and where it is used. 

“Working with Microsoft brings us one step closer to making a globally interoperable digital identity service a reality, and we look forward to sharing more very soon.”