MWC 2015: Mobile Identity on Day One

photo (1)Mobile World Congress began today in Barcelona, Spain, and while last year biometrics had a substantial presence, 2015’s exhibition is placing digital identity at the center stage and Mobile ID World president Peter O’Neill is right there where the action is.

Day one of MWC 2015 brought with it an overwhelming number of exciting announcements, from the official unveiling of Samsung Pay and the new Galaxy S6 smartphone to a wide range of mobile biometric modalities shipping with other flagship devices, mobile ID is making a bigger splash this year than ever before, and that should come as no surprise.

During the opening keynote, Mr. Jon Fredrik Baksaas, the Chairman of the GSMA (the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association, who host the conference) spoke at length about the importance of handsets and SIM cards in the future of digital identity.

“How many passwords do you have? And how many different login names do you have?” he asked the attendees. “Would you consider yourself as a typical consumer with twenty-five user names and five different passwords? I don’t know about you but I give up long before twenty-five and five. It’s an issue. How can we improve this?”

The answer is through the common platform of the handset and the SIM. Society has decided that smartphones will be the link between our human identity and our digital one. The connectivity at our fingertips is powerful and thanks to new innovations in strong authentication, many of which were announced just today, are allowing service providers and users to harness said power for security assurance.

Baksaas went on to describe the ongoing rollout of GSMA’s Mobile Connect – which allows for a digital identity to be authenticated through a device factor – predicting that by the end of 2016 one billion users will be authenticating on the platform which will offer at that time a single sign on feature.

The digital identity, as described by Baksaas, is the cornerstone of online privacy and security. Mobile Connect will go a long way in encouraging strong digital identity, but so will other innovations. The show floor at MWC this year is hosting a number of vendors that will be familiar to Mobile ID World readers. AGNITiO, BIO-Key International, Oberthur Technologies, to name a few, all have strong authentication solutions at this year’s show.

New biometrics solutions from Synaptics are keeping fingerprints positioned as a dominant biometric modality in mobile, but we have also seen some exciting integrations that are broadening the scope of strong consumer online authentication. Fujitsu announced today that it is demonstrated iris biometrics on a handset, and EyeVerify announced that its vascular recognition software has been built into the news ZTE Grand S3.

Digital identity has become a key area in consumer mobility in the same way that cost was up until recently. The takeaway from day one of MWC in terms of mobile identity is that the mobile industry is not only ready, but eager to bring the next step in online authentication and privacy to the consumer.