The end of the Social Login begins: FIDO Alliance, Samsung, and PayPal to redefine authentication

Recently, the FIDO Alliance announced that PayPal and Samsung were enabling consumer payments with fingerprint authentication on the new Samsung Galaxy S5. My valued colleague Dave Kearns and I have written various posts about the FIDO Alliance and the impact we expect they will have on the market of strong authentication and BYOI (Bring Your Own Identity). Have a look here, here, and here.

What first reads like one of these unexciting press releases I receive in huge quantities daily is in fact about a groundbreaking paradigm shift that will have massive impact on device vendors, strong authentication technology providers, and - last but not least - on social networks.

FIDO is all about enabling users to rely on one personal digital identity, their “own identity” in BYOI, to access various services. Not only that, it is also about enabling BYOI with strong authentication and, finally, getting rid of username and password authentication. While the Samsung/PayPal case is the first large use case for the FIDO Alliance, this is just the beginning. Looking at the long list of members of the FIDO Alliance, others will follow. Users then can access various services, relying on strong authentication and a locally managed identity on their smartphone. In addition, Samsung will not remain the only device vendor delivering FIDO-enabled devices.

Obviously, that will affect many markets. Strong authentication vendors, device vendors, services acting as Identity Providers, etc.

It especially will have a massive impact on social networks. A significant part of their attractiveness is that many of these have become an Identity Provider, supporting the “social login”. This is part of the business model of social networks – users are bound to the networks and the social networks learn about user behavior, which is at the core of their business model. However, there is a downside to that from a marketing perspective, as I recently explained. Aside from that, social logins commonly lack support for strong authentication.

When the FIDO Alliance success continues, the need for social logins – the most common way for BYOI –will disappear. Why should users rely on social logins when they have a more secure way to authenticate, built into their devices of choice? With the beginning of the end of social logins, an important part of the business model of social networks start to crumble away. And that is the real big news behind the recent announcement of FIDO Alliance.


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