For example, the bank's customers could use their bank account to make purchases directly without going through an intermediary such as Visa, Audley points out. The end result could be a kind of identity federation between large financial services, banking and e-commerce vendors and their countless business partners.
"Let's say you're a Bank of America customer," Audley continues. "Bank of America does a co-marketing deal with an insurance company to offer insurance to their customers at better rates. Our system allows those other companies to authenticate you as a Bank of America customer without knowing your bank account number or any of your private details."
Cogneto plans to unveil the identity network this summer. Audley says that, in addition to banks, the company is seeking partnerships to crack the enterprise and e-commerce markets, with Cogneto functioning as a broker between organizations that are looking for secure authentication options.
"You can think of it as a metadirectory," adds McArthur, the company's director of marketing and business development. "But I can't stress enough that we don't actually store any of the data. All we do is we help people get in touch with other people."
Audley and McArthur say that Cogneto can help merchants exchange useful information, such as the date of a last purchase, amount of last purchase, customer status, credit status, and so on -- without compromising customers' privacy or confidentiality.
"In some cases the only thing that's really relevant to the merchant is the fact that the user who is coming to them has a bank account in good standing," Audley says. "That information is actually quite valuable."