As the internet has matured and the range of digital services has increased, the issue of digital identity has become more important. With the internet now routinely used for everything from government services, credit checks, banking, insurance applications and much else besides, organisations need a secure, trustworthy method of verifying the identity of users in a way that is compliant with privacy regulations.
Given the strength of operator-grade network security and their long history of successfully managing subscriber data, telcos have emerged as strong favourites for the provision of these digital identity services. According to Juniper Research, the use of unique mobile identifier services will generate over $7 billion for mobile operators in 2024 – growth of over 800% on 2019 figures.
As telcos look to make the most of the opportunities on offer through the provision of digital identification services, it’s clear that interoperability will be a core pillar of success. At this stage of the telco-verified digital ID market, it’s essential that all telcos work towards the same service set and that these services can work together seamlessly, regardless of the underlying technology.
As one of the more developed verticals for telco-derived digital identifiers, ecommerce provides a case in point. Launched under the auspices of the GSMA, Mobile Connect is a secure universal identity service that provides a trusted way for mobile users to share sensitive data and undertake commercial transactions online through functions including end-user and phone number verification.
Since its launch, Mobile Connect has been deployed by more than 70 operators around the world – a success that owes much to the interoperability of the service. Mobile Connect is delivered through an Application Programming Interface (API) based on the OpenID Connect standard, meaning that any telco wishing to offer the service can do so with ease.
As the value of digital identity becomes clear for new verticals (McKinsey analysis of 100 ways in which digital IDs can be used globally suggests that full digital ID coverage could unlock economic value equivalent to 3% to 13% of GDP in 2030) embedding interoperability in a similar way will be crucial. Over the next couple of years, this contention will be tested in a fast-emerging vertical for telco-derived IDs: the digital advertising industry.
The invasive, third-party tracking cookies and Mobile Device IDs traditionally used to identify people online for targeted advertising are being phased out as privacy regulations and changing consumer mindsets set the path towards a more privacy-centric model for the internet. Telcos have a prime opportunity to be the new, privacy-first digital identity service providers for this space by verifying audiences without the need to track people online or use personally identifiable information (PII).
Already, new identifiers are coming to market to enable this new identity play for telcos. Some are being worked on by telcos in-house. Others are being developed in bilateral partnership with adtech companies. And some identifiers have already been developed by specialist providers, and are ready for use by telcos. With so much innovation taking place in discreet pockets, there’s a danger that siloed IDs only capable of working with a given telco and its adtech ecosystem will emerge. Such IDs will have limited value to advertisers due to their lack of market coverage, and the opportunity for telcos will be lost as the market coalesces around an alternative identifier.
Given the opportunities on offer in this space, Novatiq has developed an enabling layer that interacts with all IDs, regardless of whether they’re built by telcos, their partners, or other third parties (including our own Zenith ID and Hyper ID products). Our Fusion platform enables standardisation and interoperability at a market level – even if the underlying technology is different – meaning that telcos can innovate in whatever way suits them best while all still pulling in the same direction and towards the same goal.
The telco industry has already seen what can be achieved through standards-based, interoperable approaches to digital ID services for ecommerce. Our mission is to help telcos take these learnings to a new vertical that promises significant returns.