It's great that even the BBC understands the basic concepts behind identity management (BBC NEWS | Technology | Solutions to net security fears) and the problems associated with multiple identities. The token approach (as promulgated by RSA, Activcard and others) is pretty good. But of course this all comes down to trust; specifically, the ability of any issuiing body to be able to tie a real, live person to a single digital identity.
Issuing bodies that can do that are few and far between, and in North America have yet to to step up to the challenge for more than just their own needs. Banks have that ability. So does the motor vehicle licensing bureau in each state/province, although I think that the level of consumer trust in the license bureau is probably lower than it is in a bank.
But the bottom line is that this is going to be expensive, and anyone who does it is going to have to balance business goals against customer convenience. If I get a single ID from Washington Mutual here in Seattle, are they going to willingly allow me to use the same ID to replenish my Starbucks account? Perhaps. What about to log on to my Schwab brokerage account. Perhaps, but there are issues of liability as well as competition. Now what about my Bank of America account? And will BofA accept a WaMu identity?
Bottom line: This needs to happen from a central issuing authority that doesn't have these competition issues. Only two come to mind: the Feds, and the credit-card companies. If Visa (I mean the whole Visa association, not any one bank) could implement this it would be a home run. Guaranteed MasterCard and Amex would follow suit. But if I end up with three identities instead of the 40 or 50 I have now, that would be progress.
What would YOU pay for this? $10 a year? $50?