Four reasons Nigeria is turning the phone number into a digital ID

Last updated: 11 February 2016

If I lived in Nigeria, in the near future I will be able to use my mobile phone number as a unique login for a variety of online services, replacing all my passwords by pressing “OK” on my mobile each time I tried to access the services. Similarly I could use my mobile to validate my online payments, to ensure I am the only authorized payer and to be sure of who my money is going to.

As a national move to a more secure digital world, 70 million Nigerians will be provided with a Universal Digital ID, combined with a highly secure authentication mechanism, all thanks to their mobile subscription. Specifically, this is possible through the use of the MTN secured SIM, which creates a trusted environment for sensitive data and transactions. The service branded MTN Token, and can be easily adopted by any service providers, banks, merchants, eGovernment and beyond, in order to strengthen the protection of their digital services & offer a convenient user-journey to their customers.

But why is this African giant is joining the world’s most advanced countries in its journey to a secure digital identity? Here are four key reasons.

  1. Tackling cybercrime

Nigeria is among the 20 countries most targeted by cybercrime, involving a yearly loss estimated at $400 million. Better identity and authentication programs are key to tackling this.

  1. Supporting ecommerce

The second reason runs parallel to this: e-commerce & online transactions in Nigeria are growing at a very fast rate: 25% annual gross for the e-commerce industry, representing a fast growing proportion of Nigeria’s GDP. On the other hand, the high level of fraudulent transactions jeopardizes future of this emerging industry. The Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System estimates fraudulent transactions at 8.8% of all transactions that take place.

  1. Compliance with local regulation

Local online banking regulation makes it compulsory for banks to provide their customers with two-factor authentication for online banking transactions, resulting in potentially high costs for the financial institutions.

  1. Enhancing the mobile citizen experience

In 2015, Nigeria had 93.4 million active mobile internet subscriptions, or around 55% national penetration, overwhelmingly higher than the 6% fixed internet penetration. If the mobile device is used for multiple online purposes, the small screen can become a pain point in the user journey, when it comes to filling in a form for example. This potentially inconvenient digital experience gives another reason for moving to MTN Token like solutions, streamlining the authentication part of any online experience.

Enabling a more trusted digital environment, the MTN Token will deliver significant reductions in fraud whilst removing the end-user frustration in their digital journeys. As ecommerce becomes a driving force in the local economy, better security and an more compelling user experience will further add positive impacts on commercial online expansion.

Other developing nations will doubtless see similar challenges – be interested to see where else the mobile revolution is causing Nations to revisit the way they think about digital identity. Let us know in the comments.

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