The Future of Identity – Mobile, Invisible, seamless

The identity landscape is beginning to evolve at breakneck speed. With new financial legislation set to introduce plethora of commercial opportunities yet potentially create a number of challenges, demand for high-security authentication is growing rapidly across the board.

At Mobile World Congress 2017, experts from the mobile, payment and government sectors convened at an industry seminar designed to form a consensus on associated challenges and solutions. Central the debate was the degree to which the interoperable digital identity solution, Mobile Connect, can address this burgeoning demand, as well its particular suitability for use in conjunction with emerging technologies such as biometrics and blockchain.

According to Nets Senior Vice President Sirpa Nordlund, the market’s current fragmented approach to identity was unsustainable – sooner or later collaboration would be needed to provide an effective opposition to fraud. Here, legislation such as the EU’s PSD2, which mandates the use of two factor authentication, for example, can be a useful benchmark for service providers across the globe.

As emphasised by David Rennie – Industry Engagement Lead at the UK Digital Cabinet Office –  collaboration is the clear way forward, and the panel were unanimous in their assertion that trust is of the utmost importance. As Rennie identified, Mobile Connect is uniquely placed to establish this trust by virtue of being compliant with regulations such as PSD2 and operators’ increasing involvement with so many verticals.

For Rennie, the internet’s lack of built-in identity ‘layer’ was finally reaching the critical point where fraud threatened to stunt commerce.  The panel agreed that the issue of identity had never more been more importance at any time in history and that we are in fact over reliant on outdated passport technology for identity verification services.

Ideally, identity solutions need to become convenient and secure enough to the point where they are barely perceptible. It was Andrea Servida – Acting Director of the European Commission’s Trust and Cyber Security Digital Society – that highlighted the curiously paradoxical nature of the identity landscape; that as its evolution continues and authentication technologies continue to advance, identity itself will become less and less relevant. As Sirpa Nordlund put it: “the “future of identity is mobile, invisible and seamless”.

The seminar’s second half examined various ways in which Mobile Connect can be used to support future high-security trends, with particular focus upon biometrics and blockchain technology. Marcus Dormanns, Senior Director at the GSMA, examined the particular characteristics of Mobile Connect that enable it to provision the highest levels of security across multiple use cases. As Dormanns pointed out, different use cases demand both different levels of security and different means of attaining it; Mobile Connect’s architecture and compatibility across multiple dimensions enables an authentication approach tailored to the individual use case.

Rajiv Dholakia (Vice President of Products and Business Development at Nok Nok Labs) explored the tremendous diversity of biometrics as a technology, and its value in the provision of authentication services. ShoCard Vice President of Business Development Ali Nazem provided crucial insight into the inherent security and practicality of blockchain authentication, highlighting its resistance to central database hacks, and the ability of its users to choose precisely who they share their data with.

As the GSMA’s Head of Applications and Services David Pollington explained, Mobile Connect’s global architecture seeks ultimately to empower and return control its users. Indeed – as Pollington concluded – in the future, it could be that the user decides precisely how it is that they are authenticated, and how their data is shared.