Gemalto to facilitate telcos’ identity services offerings

Gemalto recently announced the release of its LinqUs Mobile ID platform. This platform helps telcos offer online authentication services at the three security assurance levels (as specified by the GSMA) to their subscribers using any SIM-enabled mobile device. This announcement comes at a time when the industry desperately needs alternate means to grow revenues, with telcos having seen slower growth and declining average revenues in recent years.

The Mobile ID platform provides an opportunity for telcos to realize revenues by utilizing the access they have to the mobile devices of their subscribers. Furthermore, telcos must understand that these services serve to improve the overall experience delivered to subscribers, so are not expected to be charged to the subscriber. The proposed revenues to be generated from these services will be driven by online service providers.

Gemalto releases the LinqUs Mobile ID platform

Launched in mid-June 2014, Gemalto’s LinqUs Mobile ID platform enables subscribers to use their mobile phone numbers to authenticate their identities online. In this service model, telcos will serve as identity providers that vouch for the authenticity of the subscriber’s identity.

The services enabled by Gemalto’s LinqUs Mobile ID platform seek to simplify the digital life of customers and online service providers. For customers, these services limit the problems associated with creating and remembering complicated passwords to just remembering a simple PIN, which can be used to access any online content or validate online transactions. This gives service providers an opportunity to outsource authentication services to telcos, and hence avoid the burden of deploying and managing these systems on their own. Some service providers have invested in the development and management of apps that generate tokens using PINs, while others have relied on web companies such as Google and Facebook to deliver these services. However, customers’ lack of trust in the use of personal data by these companies has left service providers hesitant about leveraging these services.

The LinqUs Mobile ID platform enables telcos to drive new services using existing assets

In the last three to four years telcos have returned annual revenue growth rates of between -2% and 1%, and the future isn’t any brighter according to Ovum’s forecasts, which show average revenue growth remaining below 1% until 2018. Telcos are therefore questioning where the next growth opportunities will come from.

In this era of increasing consumption of data services using mobile devices, it has become necessary to consider the development of new services that leverage the device beyond just voice and data services. The growing trend in the use of digital assets to validate oneself online is creating new opportunities. Enterprises are leveraging mobile devices as a form factor or channel for employees to authenticate themselves. By simply installing an app on the device, employees are able to authenticate themselves and gain access to resources to perform their tasks. Telcos are in a position to apply the same principle by using software built into SIM cards to deliver these services to subscribers.

Telcos have to overcome the challenge of scale

Achieving scale with respect to the subscriber base that can leverage the service will be a challenge for telcos. The Mobile ID platform has reduced this challenge by enabling the service to be activated over the air. There is, however, the problem of extending this functionality beyond a telco’s subscriber base. Telcos need to understand that service providers are the key target for these services, as these are the customers that will be using the authenticated identities to support their overall businesses. Hence, to make these services attractive to service providers, telcos will need to work jointly, either within a region or at the country level, to ensure that they have the coverage to guarantee the buy-in of service providers.

Gemalto’s Mobile ID platform, designed following the GSMA’s Mobile Connect initiative, enables telcos to work together to extend the reach of the service to their subscribers across different networks. It is also available in a software-as-a-service model, which implies that potential go-to-market boundaries have been lowered.

The mobile identity service proposition for the telco and the vendor landscape are subjects that Ovum is investigating this year.

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