Trusting in mobile identity in Asia

Last updated: 21 August 2014

What’s the one thing you can’t leave your house without: your wallet, or your house keys? Chances are it’s your mobile device.

Consider what you use your mobile for – communications, as a camera, a music and entertainment device (relying on the cloud for back-up storage of data), and perhaps even for financial transactions and work-related activity. There is little need to carry a separate wallet, address book and credit card when so many of these can be integrated into your smart device. However, security and mobile identity – and overall mobile trust – becomes paramount when the mobile provides such access to so many facets of the consumer’s life.

This is all the more important given a recent report from Ericsson which claims that there will be over 9 billion mobile subscribers by 2019 – more subscribers than humans on the planet. In addition, the greatest growth is said to come from Asia, with over 60 million new subscribers in the past quarter coming from India, China, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh. Just look at last year’s Single’s Day in China – its largest shopping event of the year – with 21% of all orders placed from mobile devices compared to 5% in 2012. Last year also broke the world record with $5.7 billion in sales!

The concept of mobile identity is therefore truly vital across the Asian market in particular. At its core, mobile ID allows users to validate their identity to access things such as financial and government services. While the mobile ID market, including in western markets, is still relatively new, centers of innovation are being set up to progress this area and progress is being made in developing commercially available mobile ID platforms compliant with GSMA Mobile Connect guidelines, as recently announced. Another example is South Korea which earlier this year began to supply Valimo to KSID (the trusted certification body for mobile authentication and digital signatures in South Korea). This represents the first step to a country-wide mobile ID process, and should be replicated elsewhere.

However, the mobile market in Asia is hugely varied, ranging from a highly developed and advanced mobile industry in Japan and South Korea to the emerging hubs of Indonesia and Cambodia, along with the intricacies of the Chinese market. There is no one solution for the entire market.

Which is why Mobile Asia Expo 2014 in Shanghai attracted so many visitors this year, over 26,000 from 93 countries and territories, a 29 per cent increase on 2013. As a burgeoning, yet complex, market, the Asian region holds huge promise, but each region has its own challenges and opportunities. For example, as more and more users use their mobiles to access services, regulation comes into play to ensure users are protected and secure. This year the Singaporean, Hong Kong and Japanese governments will all launch new regulations for mobile access to bank accounts, and we expect it won’t be long before other countries follow suit.

As more consumers in the Asian regions embrace mobile and smartphone devices, and more and more services move online in tandem, mobile ID is the infrastructure upon which this growth and innovation will thrive. For some of the highlights from the Mobile Asia Expo 2014, check out @Gemalto_Asia or #GemaltoMAE.

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