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Is this the future of online security? Why uQontrol thinks its Qkey is different

John E Dunn | March 30, 2015
Startup launches affordable 'three-factor' authentication for the masses

According to Maus, the Qkey emulates a chip and PIN terminal for online shopping, something the credit card industry has been trying and failing to do for a decade, mainly because it added too much expense and complexity for the average consumer to put up with.

On that topic, the Qkey currently costs $79 (including shipping) for early adopters wanting the Premium version but will revert to $129 after 17 April. That price includes a second Qkey 'basic' to give to a friend of family member. A free replacement key is also part of the deal although after year one an ongoing subscription fee of $49 is necessary to retain premium features.

The design is clever but will its target market grasp the benefits?

That could be a tough sell as might the $129 upfront cost and ongoing subscription fee. Currently, the product still has some way to mature and you suspect it will need to offer support for Mac as well as PC and both major mobile platforms to stand a chance of gaining traction. Note that delivery timescales are stated as being 120 days from the April deadline, which might put some people off.

For now at least the Qkey seems unlikely to become a mass-market product and its business model might need an institutional partner if it is to establish itself. It could also do with a rival to legitimise the approach to security - currently there is no other product quite like the Qkey.

What isn't in doubt is that online consumer security is in need of a shot in the arm. Too many people are being ripped off by the vulnerability of Windows computers and the lack of an adequate, affordable, convenient system for authenticating people on the Internet.

The Qkey might or might not be the answer but with so much insecurity about it has a chance.

 

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