Universal log-ins: the next big revenue spinner for mobile operators?

Speak to the heads of mobile operators and they’ll tell you life isn’t easy right now. As far as they’re concerned, over the top players are out to kill their traditional revenue streams, turning them into dumb data pipes. Those that survive will be the ones which find new ways of generating revenue. One possible way of doing so is through new universal log-in and mobile identity services.

According to Juniper Research, these services currently generate around US$20-million a year, but could grow to be worth as much as US$700-million annually by 2020.

That growth, it says, is largely down to the fact that as online engagement has soared, the limitations of a password-based approach are being increasingly exposed. With consumers using the same password for multiple sites, and the scale of data theft has risen dramatically.

Read more: 3 simple steps to getting smart on mobile security

The research estimates that the number of data breaches worldwide is expected to rise from just under 6 000 in 2015 to more than 16 000 by 2020, with an average of 500 000 records exposed per breach. Meanwhile, high-profile data breaches such as that experienced by Ashley Madison had dramatically eroded consumer confidence in those sites.

In a bid to counter this, Juniper argues that mobile operators look for a universal solution such as that endorsed by the GSMA’s Mobile Connect initiative.

Using this approach, the user logs in via a mobile number and a single PIN, something which will apparently diminish the risk of fraud, but also offers potential benefits such as greater customer conversion rates and reduced call centre costs.

Read more: There are still serious questions about mobile money and security that need to be answered

According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, that simplicity could prove vital when it comes to improving relations between mobile operators and their users. “It is imperative,” he says, “to reduce online user pain points: enabling a single, secure mode of entry could be a key development in this regard.”

Despite Juniper’s optimism around the potential for universal log-ins, it does caution that that the business case for mobile ID solutions had yet to be fully established. One problem in this regard is that operators opting for a subscription-based approach is that even a low level charge (US$1.00 per month) can represent a relatively substantial uplift in consumer spend.

The research house adds that for a mobile ID service to be successful, it would be essential for all network operators within a given market to be signed up to the scheme, thereby ensuring universal availability.



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