Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint expect to roll out ID authentication system by end of 2018

vending machine GSMA
On display at the GSMA’s Innovation City exhibit at MWC this week was a vending machine that is the product of the GSMA’s Mobile Connect program. (Image: Monica Alleven/Fierce Wireless)

BARCELONA, Spain—Anyone who’s ever been frustrated trying to find a user name and password to access something might be interested to know that the Big 4 U.S. wireless carriers just revealed new details about their next-generation mobile authentication platform.

The Mobile Authentication Task Force was formed last year to develop a mobile authentication solution to help protect enterprises and consumers from identity theft, bank fraud, fraudulent purchases and data theft. The multifactor authentication platform is powered by the carrier networks, which makes it more secure than other methods, according to GSMA representatives. The task force vision includes interoperability with GSMA's Mobile Connect technology.

The GSMA has been working with operators around the world to bring a consistent and interoperable security identity service to market and the taskforce is strengthening the effort by enabling a simple user experience in the U.S. market.

It’s just in the trial stage at this point. The task force will start internal trials over the next few weeks, with the goal of making the solution generally available to consumers by the end of the year. GSMA says the task force will launch a website later this year enabling service providers to learn more about the solution and sign up to participate as an application developer.

According to GSMA, it’s a highly secure solution that will deliver a cryptographically verified phone number and profile data for users of authorized applications with their consent. Authentication security gets a boost with a network verified mobile number, IP address, SIM card attributes, phone number tenure, phone account type and more. In addition, advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities are being enlisted to help assess risk and protect customers.

While this announcement just includes the four biggest U.S. wireless operators, smaller operators are expected to follow suit, according to Ana Tavares, head of North American Markets for GSMA. Tavares also said her organization is working very closely with U.S. carriers to make sure that what they launch is interoperable with other identity services that other operators around the world have launched.

“We understand that markets are different and the user base of handsets you have in India is very different from the U.S.,” she said, noting the U.S. handset base is very advanced in terms of penetration.

Operators might need to customize services in their countries depending on the user base, “but we want to make sure that they’re all interoperable,” she told FierceWireless on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress 2018. GSMA representatives are working with operators around the world to make sure interoperability happens.

On display at the GSMA’s Innovation City exhibit at MWC this week was a vending machine that is the product of the GSMA’s Mobile Connect program. The demo showed how a person could get a prescription from the vending machine using their smartphone app and biometrics instead of having to wait around for it in a pharmacy. It even verifies that a person is older than 21.

A separate demo showed how emergency personnel, like ambulance attendants, could access a patient’s health records from a participating healthcare organization (with the proper permissions, of course) and get that information far faster than traditional means.