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Singapore telcos to collaborate on mobile-based authentication

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 05:50
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Consumers here with mobile phones will soon be able to enjoy fast and secure access to a variety of online services using just their cellphone number - when M1, Singtel and StarHub adopt the GSMA's Mobile Connect authentication standard.

Singapore

CONSUMERS here with mobile phones will soon be able to enjoy fast and secure access to a variety of online services using just their cellphone number - when M1, Singtel and StarHub adopt the GSMA's Mobile Connect authentication standard.

Mobile Connect will free users from having to manage multiple usernames and passwords for every online account. It creates a universal, trusted digital identity for convenient and secure access to compatible telecommunications, banking, e-commerce, entertainment, government and travel services, and applications.

The first wave of supported online services is expected to be unveiled in the second half of 2017, from which users will be able to enjoy the service, The Business Times understands.

The service works like this: via interactive prompts on the mobile phone, users will be able to confirm their identity using their mobile number, combined with a unique personal code, for online transactions that require higher levels of security.

No information will be made available to online service providers without the user's permission.

To drive rollout and adoption, M1, Singtel and StarHub will build a unified platform to enable integration with online service providers through a common Mobile Connect API (application programming interface).

When asked if Mobile Connect could potentially replace SingPass (which today is used by citizens to conduct personal and corporate e-government transactions), a spokesman for the three telcos said: "We are keen to engage with all parties, including government agencies so that consumers can enjoy a wide selection of Mobile Connect-enabled services."

He added that the highly secure, trusted nature of authentication provided by Mobile Connect makes it relevant across industries.

Commenting on the platform's security, he said: "Mobile Connect has multiple levels of assurance (LoA). Online service providers can implement an LoA depending on the nature of their service and security needs."

The spokesman said that a financial service provider, for instance, could implement the highest LoA, which would require users to input a Mobile Connect pin for secure transactions.

Mobile Connect will benefit both users and service providers. According to the GSMA, 87 per cent of users leave a website when they are asked to register[1], as it inconveniences them. Users also find it hard to remember their growing list of usernames and passwords, with 40 per cent using the "forget password" feature monthly.

For service providers, Mobile Connect will allow them to offer simpler signups, reduce customer frustration and abandoned transactions due to authentication issues, and increase the likelihood of repeat business.

Mobile Connect is currently available in 22 countries. BT understands that India is the only country globally to have implemented this platform across all its telcos. Singapore is now on track to do the same.

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