MNOs have suffered from fading relevance in the digital economy, even though it is underpinned by operator infrastructure. Digital identity services represent an opportunity for operators to add value in this context, leveraging existing assets and capabilities in this regard.
This report looks at developments in operator digital identity services in order to inform MNOs considering their digital identity approach.
Background to the Report
Digital identities enable participation in the digital economy, ensuring that transacting parties can be certain of who they are transacting with – in order to encourage further interactions.
An identity can be described as a set of attributes related to an entity. Validation of these attributes in the physical context is usually achieved by producing physical evidence (e.g. a passport), but in the digital context, this becomes more complex. A digital identity is one that can be remotely authenticated, over digital channels.
Digital identity service providers are businesses that can provide this authentication on behalf of a third party (i.e. the relying party). Identity services can include not only providing user authentication but complementary services such as facilitating consent-based information sharing and securing authorisations to enable functions or service access.
MNOs have assets and capabilities that can be leveraged to become digital identity service providers. These include:
- Technical assets (e.g. SIM) and capabilities (e.g. authentication and registration processes) to manage identities;
- A large marketplace of subscribers whose identities have been validated via established processes;
- Customer insight in terms of network information and behavioural data (in CRM systems);
- Payment relationships with customers are in place.
Digital identity services are a two-sided market opportunity, the key stakeholders being consumers and relying parties.
Relying parties are digital entities (e.g. businesses, governments) that wish to verify that service users are who they say they are in order to prevent fraud or the creation of fake accounts.
Relying parties are typically looking for identity services that offer a higher level of reliability (assurance) than popular self-asserted identity mechanisms (e.g. self-determined usernames and passwords that may have been reused multiple times). They want to authenticate users in a way that is efficient and convenient for the consumer and the business, minimising the complexities of customer registration, identity verification processes and issues with data protection and privacy.
Consumers want to use digital identities to improve their customer experience (e.g. to simplify login processes) while being assured of secure access, privacy safeguards and data protection.
MNO digital identity services must meet these stakeholder requirements (at a minimum) in order to unlock the potential for new revenue streams (e.g. from relying parties) and provide routes to new value-added services (e.g. by leveraging related customer insights).
The subject of digital identities was first introduced in the report Digital Identity: Commercial Opportunities for MNOs (November 2013). This report looks at the current understanding of the digital identity opportunity (six years on), the foundations of digital identity services and how operators are participating in the provision of digital identity services in order to arrive at recommendations for operators considering their strategies in this regard.
Subsequent to this introduction, the remainder of the report is arranged in the following sections:
- Section 3 provides an overview of the digital identity opportunity;
- Section 4 explains the key concepts that provide the foundations of identity services;
- Section 5 introduces the types of digital identity services on offer from operators around the globe;
- Section 6 examines the experiences of Orange and SK Telecom in launching their digital identity services to identify lessons for others.
Low MNO relevance in the digital economy
Identity-relevant assets/capabilities (eg. registration and authentication)
Standards (eg. Mobile Connect) can facilitate participation
Commercial Models and revenue opportunity unproven
Many players entering the market (eg. governments, banks)
Interoperability important for wide adoption
Develop both sides of the two-sided market simultaneously
Collaborate for interoperability and innovation
Be flexible to accommodate new developments
1.1 Key Infographic
1.3 Three i3
2. Background and Content
2.1 Background to the Report
2.2 Report Content
2.3 Currency and Conversions
2.4 Further Questions and Feedback
3. The Identity Opportunity
3.1 The Value of the Identity Opportunity
3.2 Consumer Trust
3.3 Identity Services and the Internet of Things
4. Foundations of Identity Systems
4.2 Trust Frameworks and Standards
4.2.1 OpenID Protocol
4.2.2 OAuth Protocol
4.3 GSMA Mobile Connect
5. MNO Identity Services
5.2 Single Sign-On (SSO)
5.2.1 Strong Customer Authentication
5.3 Digital Signatures
5.4 Authorisation as a Function of Transaction
5.5 Permission-Based Information Sharing
5.5.1 Attribute Provision
5.5.2 Requests for Authorisation
5.6 Distributed ID Solutions
5.7 Government Digital Identity Contribution
5.8 Identification Service Brokering
5.9 Mobile Connect Accelerator
6. MNO Case Studies
6.1 Orange Group
6.2 SK Telecom, South Korea
7. Findings and Conclusions