Proving your identity requires various documents or items in different contexts – identity card, credit cards, access codes etc – not forgetting such items as the key to your car. Now Usher, a solution developed by MicroStrategy, enables you to digitise all such items in a single app.

Usher Enables Secure Digitisation of ID Items

In 2011, 17% of EU citizens reported having been the target of identity theft. This type of fraud can turn out to be very expensive, with financial losses estimated on average at €1,680 per attack in France and up to thirty times this sum in Germany. The purpose of ‘Usher’, a new app developed by MicroStrategy, a global provider of enterprise software platforms, is not only to combat this kind of fraud, but goes so far as to digitise all the various ways of proving one’s identity. The mobile app was unveiled by Mox Weber, MicroStrategy’s Senior Director, Product Management, during the MicroStrategy World 2013 conference held on 8-11 July in Barcelona. Usher uses digital access codes to enable replacement of all official documents demanded by the various authorities, and can combine various means of verifying authorised access to restricted areas such as offices, elevators and parking garages.

Multiple levels of security

Passports, driving licences, health insurance cards and your library membership card – Usher can be used for many different purposes. The software digitises the documents, files the data in a Cloud server, and retransmits it via secure access codes, somewhat along the lines of Netverify, on which L’Atelier reported last April. Except that if a user wishes to prove his/her identity at the town hall, for example, Usher can offer various means for the authorities to check that this is the right person. The first option is to generate a QR code on demand. The code is then scanned to check the match with the database. The second method, which takes two minutes, produces a number code, which will then also be checked with the Usher database. Other options call for a wider range of checks to be carried out – for example requiring an Usher code plus a pin code or biometric data – thus providing extra security.

Lost? Return to ‘Go’!

“The advantage of digitising these documents is that it allows collaboration between different administrative departments,” explained Mox Weber, adding: “While losing your wallet might do you a lot of harm, with Usher things are completely different.” The mobile telephone also has two competitive advantages compared with other devices: a) it can be geolocated; and b) it can be password-protected, which is always a useful barrier to fraud. Replacing the documents in question is also much faster, because if you lose the phone all you have to do is get hold of another one and download the app again. The Usher approach does however raise a number of thorny issues, as it involves putting a huge amount of data in the hands of a single company, with all the risks of IT fraud that one can imagine.



By Guillaume Parodi