Phone-Centric Identity, also known as Mobile Identity, Device Intelligence, or Phone Intelligence, refers to technology that optimizes and analyzes mobile, telecom, and other signals for fraud prevention and identity verification and authentication.
Correlation between Phone-Centric Identity Signals and Digital Trust
Phone-Centric Identity relies on billions of real-time signals pulled from authoritative sources, making it a powerful proxy for digital identity and trust. Phone-Centric Identity signals are highly correlated with identity and trustworthiness as mobile phones are ubiquitous (many people have them) and frequently used devices.
The chart given above, taken from a McKinsey report titled ‘Fighting Back Against Synthetic Identity Fraud,’ shows that profiles with higher depth and consistency were less vulnerable to fraudulent activities. Phone-Centric Identity signals—which include phone line tenure; phone behavior such as calls, texts, logins, and ad views; phone line change events as ports, snap-backs, true disconnects, and phone number changes; phone number account takeovers such as SIM swaps; and velocity and behavior of change events—have high consistency and depth. Unlike social security numbers or passwords that can be easily purchased on the dark web by hackers and used to break into a consumer’s account, Phone-Centric Identity signals are foolproof.
Phone-Centric Identity leverages mobile phones as a ‘what you have’ factor that companies can use to determine whether they are interacting with their customer or a fraudster. This check, often referred to as a ‘possession’ check, returns a binary answer (yes or no) about whether a company is interacting with its customer or someone else.
Privacy and Customer Experience
Phones also have built-in passive authentication, encryption, and privacy. Companies can apply Phone-Centric Identity technology to web, app, mobile, chat, call center, and even in-person interactions. The technology simplifies and eases new account opening, logging in, resetting passwords, moving money, and calling a contact center for support.
Companies looking to verify and authenticate their customers in a secure fashion without compromising on customer experience are increasingly preferring Phone-Centric Identity and Mobile Identity/Device Intelligence. One World Identity (OWI) highlighted this space as highly influential in its January webinar on The 2021 Digital Identity Landscape.
“We’re seeing that become more and more relevant,” said Cameron D’Ambrosi, Managing Director, OWI. “Being able to rely on that device as a proxy for a human—especially a mobile device—because how many of us are attached at the hip to our smartphones all day every day? Both in terms of the velocity of those data attributes that we’re feeding into the digital identity ecosystem—making those extremely valuable—and the fact that when you lose your device or it’s stolen or taken over maliciously, you are probably going to recognize that very, very quickly as a consumer.”
Checks for Companies Looking to Enhance Their Identity Verification and Authentication
Even though the signals that Phone-Centric Identity analyzes are complex, the concept is quite simple and is centered around three main factors: Possession, Reputation, and Ownership.
- Possession: Is the customer in possession of the phone number? Knowing that someone is in possession of a phone at the precise moment of a potential transaction helps identify someone regardless of the transaction channel and helps ensure the customer is indeed on the other end of an interaction.
- Reputation: Are there risky changes or suspicious behaviors associated with the phone number? Typically, people have had the same phone number for a long time and upgrade phones only every few years. Compare that to a burner phone, or a phone that underwent a SIM swap, or a phone number that was just registered. These activities damage the reputation of the phone itself, allowing companies to flag the phone regardless of the customer activity.
- Ownership: Is the customer associated with the phone number? It is crucial to associate a phone number with a person when confirming that the customer is in possession of the phone. Otherwise, a wrong person may be verified.
Use Cases of Phone Intelligence
Some popular use cases among the many applications of Phone Intelligence are as follows:
- Identity verification/identity proofing
- Seamless login authentication (two-factor authentication/multi-factor authentication)
- SIM swap fraud/account takeover prevention
- New account creation/user acquisition
- Authenticating call center calls
With more companies shifting to digital customer interaction, this ‘PRO’ model of identity is emerging as a modern alternative to legacy identity verification methods. Phone-based authentication enables companies to approve more legitimate customers in real time, helping those customers do just as much, if not more, online as they would be able to in-person.