SA brain builds secure online ID

2012-07-12 11:20
Marnus Broodryk has built Virtual iD as a secure online identification platform. (Picture provided)

Marnus Broodryk has built Virtual iD as a secure online identification platform. (Picture provided)

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Cape Town - A South African entrepreneur has developed a secure platform that should reduce criminals' ability to commit identity theft.

"We've implemented great security measures on our system and what I find quite funny is that everyone is questioning the security which I understand, but we give this information on a daily basis to guys behind counters all over the show," Marnus Broodryk the brain behind Virtual iD told News24.

The programme aims to eliminate paperwork in filling in forms and give users control of the information and who is allowed to access it.

"We're creating this platform where you're going to give it [personal information] in a very secure platform and we're going to manage it and you're going to be in full control of all your information because you're going to authorise everything with your cellphone," said Broodryk.

The process begins when users go online and register for the free service. When applying to service provider (buying aeroplane tickets, opening clothing accounts) the system means that you won't have to fill in application forms.


Instead, users will give an eight digit virtual iD number to the service provider and immediately get an SMS for confirmation. Once a confirmation is sent, the provider can access the information.

Broodryk rejected suggestions that the system would imply that service providers would recoup their cost by levying additional charges on consumers.

"We can already prove to the service providers that they are going to save so much money by being on our system. They would eliminate all paper work, so if they've got any application forms, they would save on that.

"And then all the human resources that they are using capturing information and not only capturing but we are human so we make errors so we need to correct those errors as well. So all the time and energy they're currently spending on that would be saved by our system," he said.

The programme launched on 5 July to consumers, in the company is in negotiations with service providers to switch to the system.

"We are currently talking to a couple of partners and service providers to get on board; we're just encouraging the users to go and subscribe and that's also making our sale a lot stronger when we talk to the service providers," Broodryk said.

The company is on a drive to target users of the service and registration is relatively simple.


On the website, you are presented with an interface that requests personal information, including the details of a spouse as well as medical conditions. The platform also allows a user created password to update information.

In order to incentivise users to signup, the company is running a competition to win a Sony Bravia LCD TV.

"Our problem is like the chicken or the egg: We go to the service providers; they say there's no-one on the system; we go to users, they say there're no service providers," said Broodryk.

The system limits identity theft because every request for information has to be confirmed by an individual user and the company operates without sending e-mail.

"When we launched this application we eliminated e-mail completely and we said: 'What's your most personal device?' And that's your mobile phone and we going to work on mobile only. So when you authorise details, you're going to authorise it on your mobile phone," Broodryk said.

The system should limit opportunities for hackers to send phishing e-mails for information and users should have more control over any company that wants to use personal information.

Companies may still be able to use information that users have consented to among their various subsidiaries, but the user could arguably still trace the firm first authorised to use their personal information.

"For the first time the user will really be in charge and in control of his own information," said Broodryk.

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Here is a YouTube video on the Virtual iD:

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