7 reasons why Mobile is the future of Digital ID

Last updated: 12 June 2018

Bizarrely, more people today own a mobile device than a toothbrush (a statistic that will haunt many dentists). With more than 5 billion unique mobile subscribers across the world, mobile is becoming the main structural platform to ensure the development of the new digital economy, because it enables connectivity with the capacity to transact anytime and anywhere.

With so many people empowered digitally via their mobile device, not only to communicate and access data, but also to transact, the new challenge to ensure the success of this digital economy relies on knowing who you transact with. Traditional methods of sharing identities that are less convenient, and less reliable… So, are mobile trusted digital identities the answer?

What is mobile identity?

OWI defines Mobile Identity as the application of a user’s identity attributes bound to a mobile device for identity verification, Authentication, and/or Authorization that enables an end user to send or receive goods or services across a mobile network.

A mobile identity consists of two primary components:

  • User information as biometric characteristics, digitized government identity credentials, or financial account data
  • Mobile device information as geolocation, mobile or device ID number

So why is mobile identity the future of Digital ID? Here are seven reasons why we believe this is the case.

  1. Mobile penetration across all economies

Yes, the number of total mobile subscribers worldwide has hit 5 billion, representing 67% WW penetration. Mobile is now the most popular global platform across all regions, reaching 63% in Middle East & North Africa and 68% in Asia Pacific, and 44% in sub-Saharan Africa. If we go beyond the number of mobile subscribers, prepaid cards represent an even higher penetration, reaching 76% penetration WW and 95% across Africa.

  1. Mobile can be used as unique identifier

Mobile enables us to create dynamic identities by combining several attributes with the use of the mobile number “as unique identifier”.  On top of this, end user identity can be verified combining biometrics and document verification. This verified unique identifier can facilitate and enable secure transactions between individuals. Several industries are already using this approach as a clear example, Mobile Money has been deployed in more than 92 countries, and more than half a billion registered mobile money accounts.

  1. Mobile facilities the federation of credentials

Generally people have far too many passwords to remember; analysis of data from more than 20,000 users shows that the average user has 90 online accounts. In my own case, I now have more than 50 different logins and passwords.

Managing all these credentials is becoming highly difficult. We are increasingly tired of usernames and passwords to access multiple services, shopping, healthcare, financial services, education, and the list of digital services is growing every day. Mobile identity facilitates the federation of user identity, by sharing these credentials digitally across service providers to ease friction in user experience. One single trusted identifier to access all. It is clear that to succeed in the new digital economy, passwords are not the answer.

  1. Mobile Identity schemes are already under development

Countries like Azerbaijan, Estonia or China, have already deployed mobile identity. Mobile identity is used today, for a lot more than buying a cup of coffee. As we discussed in our previous blog, Chinese Mobile ID is developing rapidly with high levels of investment and adoption, and is now used by more than 62 million users and more than 450 million daily transactions occur on the platform.

The use for National identity system is also evolving; mobile identity could be federated across a wider range of services, from paying taxes, to authenticating a digital driving licence or being eligible for other government services.

  1. Mobile Identity standards are evolving

Global digital identity needs to adapt to each country’s requirements and regulations while ensuring global interoperability. To make this happen, industry collaboration is key and new standards are required to develop this ecosystem. Several governments, banks, Mobile Network Operators and other industries are working together to develop these new standards:

  1. Mobile is becoming a popular services platform

Mobile is the new platform for all generations and is now the must have tool to access services and goods. 80% of Twitter users access the network on mobile platforms, and 93 percent of Twitter video views happen on mobile. Smartphones are the world’s preferred choice for going online, accounting for 52% of web traffic.

Services providers are also moving in this direction; several banks enable you to use your finger print to access financial services.  Other services providers as airlines and social networks are now asking to verify your identity by scanning your ID card and then taking a selfie to verify if you are who you claim to be, using facial recognition.

The movement towards verification of these digital identities can be used to add value to these interactions and ensure people trust. The key is to know who you transact with to enable the secure use of the mobile platform.

  1. Mobile is simple

Last but not least, Mobile is super easy to use!

As of February 2017, mobile devices accounted for 49.7 percent of web page views worldwide, with mobile-first markets such as Asia and Africa leading the pack.

Indeed, mobile is part of our daily lives now; you just need a smartphone and in few seconds,  you can access a bunch of goods and services. For example, just check out what Amazon premium is doing to our shopping experience with 100 million Amazon Prime subscribers around the world with the promise to ensure frictionless experience.

The center of the new economy is mobile, and success in this digital economy means knowing who you transact with and mobile identity is becoming an infrastructural component of this evolution.

Growth will be driven primarily by increased end user adoption, new applications development and the increased need of trusted transactions among individuals all over the world.

As a result, Mobile Identity is here to stay as key enabler of next generation digital transactions and part of MNO, financial services, and government digital identity infrastructures to create, verify and authenticate user identity.


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