Authentication Can Be Revolutionized: ICANN Grants Top-Level Domain Name to the Post. What Impact on Financial Inclusion, Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing?

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) formally granted the sponsored top-level domain name .post to the UPU on 9 December 2009. The contract betwen both organizations was signed in Geneva’s U.N. headquarters (Switzerland) on 11 December 2009 and represents a truly historical step in the integration of the electronic and physical communication worlds.

The UPU is the first United Nations agency to obtain a top-level domain name for the global industry it represents.

.post will facilitate the development of secure and trusted postal services over the Internet and enable the UPU to reach the full potential of its original mission, to build a worldwide space without borders that facilitates personal and business communication in a secure and trusted environment.

Having delegated authority for .post, the UPU will develop, implement and monitor governance rules for .post and manage the attribution of domain names. These are expected to be available by mid-2010 for postal-sector stakeholders who meet the eligibility criteria.

What could this mean for the provision of secured financial services to the poor, and for financial inclusion policies? The lack of reliable identification procedures usually comes as one of the main barriers that prevents a larger access to financial services by the poor. As banking agents or themselves postal banks, postal networks will soon be ready to channel more secure and safer electronic financial transactions thanks to the top-level domain name “.post” attributed by ICANN, and thereby reduce authentication concerns as well as anti-money laundering (AML) and anti-terrorist financing (ATF) concerns of many financial regulatory authorities.

How could this more concretely work? With the likely expansion of mobile postal banking, it becomes paramount to bridge physical and all kind of digital addresses in order to reduce dramatically the number of suspicious financial transactions. This unique authentication service – that could permanently match electronic and physical locations and addresses – could be provided by postal operators as banking agents or directly as postal banks.

Listen to the press conference. See it on YouTube. Your reactions are most welcome.

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