2016: The Year Mobile Connect Became Available to a Third of the World’s People

January 11, 2017

Blog

Marie Austenaa, VP and Head of Personal Data & Mobile Identity, GSMA

marie-austenaaOne of the most noticeable trends in 2016 was the growing preoccupation with hacking, data breaches and the revaluation of digital identity. Yet throughout the year, one of the potential solutions to these global concerns, Mobile Connect, was making strides forward. By February, the GSMA announced that the solution was available to a milestone 2 billion enabled users worldwide, having launched in 21 countries. Having demonstrated its use in a range of contexts – from finance, retail, and entertainment, to public services and healthcare – Mobile Connect had come to reach nearly a third of the world’s population, through 34 MNOs and more to follow.

This was followed by a keystone summit in June, to which Mobile Connect’s potential attracted more than a hundred senior global figures from organisations across the mobile, financial and commerce industries, and even representatives from the UK Cabinet Office. With data security top of the agenda, delegates discussed in depth the importance users place on privacy and control, with one representative from Telenor stating “why use Mobile Connect over other solutions? It is more secure, more transparent and gives the user more control and choice.”

The following month saw a commitment by China’s three mobile network operators to ensure interoperability for Mobile Connect throughout the country. Consumers in China will soon be able to use the service on any platform available to them, regardless of which operator they use. The agreement was made at Mobile World Congress Shanghai, signalling recognition of the central role Mobile Connect will play in delivering identity authentication across digital services in the world’s most populous country.

Mobile World Congress Shanghai also featured a proof-of-concept demonstration in partnership with Microsoft. Attendees were able to use Mobile Connect to securely log in to services that use the software giant’s Azure Active Directory B2C, an identity and access management cloud solution that enables secure single sign-on for thousands of the world’s most popular cloud apps, used by millions of corporate customers worldwide.

In the same month Mobile Connect saw another of its greatest milestones, as the solution was launched across India. The launch event was attended by representatives from India’s leading mobile operators and senior figures from an array of interested organisations in commerce and digital services. The world’s second-largest mobile market – and fastest-growing economy – was quick to recognise the benefits inherent to Mobile Connect, as the country aims to overcome online transaction fraud, and scale its digital economy by reducing reliance on cash.

As the year drew to a close, momentum did not slow. November saw Mobile Connect partner with Visa for the Digital Payments Hackathon, in which the world-leading payments technology firm hosted a two-day event in which entrants competed to test and pitch digital identity solutions.

By the end of the year, Vodafone had launched the service in Spain, and Telefónica in Chile and Uruguay, expanding Mobile Connect’s presence in Europe and South America and bringing the total number of countries in which it is available to 28, through a total of 49 MNOs. With the solution now available to more than a third of the world’s users, and more in the year ahead, the upcoming Mobile World Congress promises to be an exciting one for all those with an interest in the future of digital identity.

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