Digital Identity at Mobile World Congress

February 9, 2017 | Digital Identity | Global | Ceri Greenland

Wear flats, book your hotel early, pick up your badge at the airport and not at 8AM on Day One. Any Mobile World Congress (MWC) veteran knows the rules – of the many events on the global conference circuit, MWC always manages to deliver a strangely comforting familiarity while exposing you to everything new and current related to mobile. Add a hundred thousand other people trekking around Barcelona over a four-day period to the mix and it can be difficult to know what to prioritise. This year, one of the most exciting new kids on the block will be the GSMA’s very own Digital Identity Programme, which is working with end-users, operators and government partners in a number of emerging markets to leverage mobile where formal identification systems may be fragmented or non-existent.

This year’s MWC theme – The Next Element, is centred around the idea that these days, mobile is (whether you like it or not) all-encompassing – it’s integrated into almost every facet of life and is fundamental to how we work, play, and communicate. Within the Digital Identity programme, this cross-cutting nature of mobile technology is one that we believe can be better leveraged to deliver life-enhancing services to those that may have own or share a phone, but struggle to gain access to healthcare, social security payments and secure banking services because they lack the necessary official form of identification.

At the most basic level, one’s identity is also a fundamental element that is required to function in daily life – from post office collections to bank transfers and air travel – if you do not have a way of concretely proving your identity, you are limited in terms of how you engage with the world around you. In countries where identification systems are not always in place, or are fragmented, this creates barriers to many government and commercial services that otherwise would improve the lives of millions. Whether these services reach those living and working in rural communities, vulnerable populations such as refugees or children, or those who simply feel that they are not formally recognised as a person and are therefore limited in how they participate in daily civic life, mobile-enabled digital identity has a significant role to play in ensuring that such services are secure and accessible.

The GSMA Digital Identity team will be travelling to Barcelona later this month to engage with key stakeholders from the operator community, with policymakers from a number of emerging markets, and with thousands of end-users who are the dynamic and ever-changing force that keeps the mobile industry innovating. We will be demonstrating the importance and enormous potential that comes from the development of robust and sustainable digital identification services within the mobile ecosystem, and hope to see you at some of the following events:


  • Mobile for Development Networking Reception, Monday 27 February, 19:30 – 21:30 CET, Palau Requesens, Requesens Palace / Royal Academy of Fine Arts Calle Obispo Cassador 3 (Plaça Sant Just)

  • Mobile World Congress Keynote Address: Achieving Sustainable Development Goals Through Mobile, Tuesday February 28th, 09:00 – 10:30, Auditorium 1

  • Mobile: Transforming the Digital Identity Landscape, Wednesday March 1st, 11:15 – 12:30, Ministerial Programme, Hall 4, Auditorium A (Ministerial Programme access required)

  • M4D Seminar 2 – Innovate to Lead: Taking New Mobile Solutions from Concept to Scale, Wednesday 1st March, 16:00 – 18:00, GSMA Seminar Theatre 1, CC1


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