The Digital Identity ecosystem is evolving and operators cannot afford to miss out

There used to be a time when something you ordered would be delivered in a month—and that was completely normal. Now, customers have become used to same and next-day delivery. Everything else has accelerated too. You can find out the answer to any question in an instant thanks to Google and when you call or write to a business you expect an instant response.

This always-on culture is a real challenge for businesses. Customers now flit between online websites, social media and bricks-and-mortar stores. For mobile network operators catering to this new omnichannel reality can be a challenge and is something we’ve discussed on the blog before.

Creating secure digital identities becomes paramount for each stage of the customer journey, from on-boarding new customers to providing support and opening up access to new services. Each part of the experience must be as frictionless as possible while ensuring security is never compromised.

The regulatory back-down

Alongside managing demands for improvements in the customer experience, new regulation such as eIDAS, KYC and AML are coming into effect. Fortunately, new technology approaches can help governments, financial services, telecoms businesses navigate this new environment. For example:

  • Mobile Connect—a log-in solution that uses a mobile number—has more than 62 deployments in 33 countries
  • FIDO has built an alliance of more than 250 cross-industry, global member organizations focused on secure user-authentication
  • The US Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded a federal grant to further support the development of trusted identities based on a digital driver’s license.

Global and regional initiatives have also been set-up such as ID2020—a public-private consortium aiming provide digital identities for the 1.1 billion people who currently have none. The UN and World Bank also have their own identity initiative, Identification for Development (ID4D), which has a goal of providing everyone on the planet with a legal ID by 2030.

It is clear how fast things are moving when it comes to digital identity. It goes far beyond simply supplying your name, ID number and birthday. It’s now about proving you are who you say you are so that you can access services. Not only will this help cut down fraud, but the experience people receive can be better tailored to their needs.

A number of companies and governments are making headway in this field:

China Mobile has established itself in the digital identity market by deploying a mobile authentication system now used by more than 62 million users. More than 450 million daily transactions occur on the platform offering a range of authentication capabilities across several commercial contexts.

In India, the government’s digital ID platform, Aadhaar has now been linked to around 558 million bank accounts. Since its launch in 2009, more than 1.18 billion biometric accounts have been set-up.

Biometric technology is also popular in Pakistan. Its NADRA platform works with banks, mobile operators, and other companies. Recently its biometric database has been utilized to manage the payments of flood relief to 2.4 families.

In Estonia, long a nation of technology innovation, their Digital ID service manages the public and private interactions of 98% of the population. This is across everything from eVoting, traveling within the EU, health insurance, e-prescriptions, public transport, voting, proof of ID, and taxes. In all, there are over 700 applications on the platform.

Similar initiatives are underway across Europe, including the Single Digital Identity. Other countries like Canada, Austria and Spain are moving in this direction too, emphasizing the role that telecom operators can play from a very early stage—something which is vital for widespread adoption.

For financial services identification and verification have always been crucial elements for financial services. Banks alone are now spending over $1billion a year on identity management solutions.

The role for telecoms operators

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear me say that telecoms operators play a fundamental role in all of this. They have decades of experience in connecting people and have built up a huge wealth of consumer trust when it comes to securely managing digital identities.

In several regions across the world operators are already providing services to verify identity and reduce fraud. And in some markets, mobile carriers are also providing digital identity solutions where some citizens don’t have access to bank accounts.

Digital identities are being woven into the fabric of society, so having a clear strategy for how your company can make use of them will become paramount in the years ahead.

We are excited about this massive challenge, but we also know that our customers need long-term support to adapt to shifting market conditions. Collaboration will be essential to unlock all the opportunities that digital identities present.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts, where we will discuss how new technologies are helping to build a trusted digital ecosystem, smooth customer experience and create added value for end-users.

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