US National Carriers Partner On Mobile Authentication – MWC 2018

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Yesterday, during the final day of MWC 2018, the Mobile Authentication Taskforce laid out the details of its vision for the future of mobile authentication, which it plans to implement by the end of the year. The consortium’s members include each of the major mobile cell service providers in the U.S. – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The overall goal of the initiative is to develop an authentication solution to protect against an array of threats. Specifically, members hope to protect mobile customers – including enterprises – from identity theft, bank fraud, and data theft, while maintaining interoperability with GSMA’s Mobile Connect technology.

To that end, authentication will be strengthened through the processing of a combination of attributes unique to a cell user. Those include network-verified mobile numbers, IP addresses, SIM card attributes, phone number tenure, and account type, among others. Moreover, the carriers hope to utilize advances in machine learning and A.I. analytics for both consumer risk assessments and as part of the protective side of the solution. The group will begin testing solutions over the course of the next few weeks and a website will be launched later this year that will allow developers to sign up to be part of the program. Registered developer’s applications will be submitted via a dedicated blockchain to ensure that their submissions are authentic and untampered with. The same website will also outline the state of the solution as it moves forward in development.

Travis Jarae, former Google executive and current CEO of strategy and research company OWI, suggests the new collaboration won’t necessarily go as planned. Previous efforts between carriers to enact solutions, even with regard to projects as mundane as mobile wallets, have lead to infighting that ultimately resulted in failure. Whether or not that happens here remains to be seen, though Mr. Jarae still deems the new initiative commendable as it has the potential to solve a serious issue using suitable and ubiquitous hardware – smartphones. With any luck, the inclusion of external developers and direct interoperation with the GSMA will put the efforts of the task force on a more positive path than what happened with the Isis Wallet app which was later rebranded into Softcard.