Our lives have become, in many ways, a ‘mobile experience’. We’ve become inseparable from, dependent on and emotionally attached to our devices to the extent that we feel lost without them. Whether for social media, banking, business tasks, buying and selling products, or for identification purposes, mobile devices are an essential part of everyday life. This mobile experience is now part of everyday life for more people than ever before, smartphone penetration has become more prevalent and the management of the identity we use online is now of critical importance – the requirement for using Digital Identities is mounting as the use of them permeates our daily activities: using them both for our personal and professional lives.
This was clearly demonstrated in a recent research study to forecast and understand customer wants and needs in the year 2025. In December 2016, an independent consumer survey of 1,969 smartphone users globally was carried out by Smart Survey on behalf of Gemalto. This was done to provide insights into what the customer of tomorrow wants and expects, the study surveyed people from three different age groups including the 15-30, 31-49 and the 50+ groups.
Themes such as the expectations consumers have for technological evolution and the evolving payment experience were included, but the themes addressing privacy and trust yielded the most interesting insights as we sought to understand what this meant for the future of mobile customer experiences.
Not just a smartphone… that’s what customer of tomorrow wants and expects
When asked the question, “In 2025, your smartphone will be more advanced. Which of the following features will you expect from your smartphone? ”, respondents could select as many responses as they wanted to, from a list of 11 options. The second highest selection (48%) was “Become your main ID (Replacing your national ID or your passport) while the highest was “To control your home autonomously’ @59%”.
Effectively one in two expect smartphones to be able to function as your national ID or even your passport. This would indeed be an impressive feat if it were achieved by 2025, as so many questions would need to be addressed for this to be made workable. Interestingly, the Chinese lead the way by a considerable margin with this expectation. 70% of respondents in China responded positively to this option, over 20% more than in all the other countries surveyed. In fact, over three quarters (76%) of Chinese people aged 50+ said they expect smartphones to serve as their ID, the highest response within any age group in any individual country.
The Mobile ID era no longer just an idea, but a reality
We already see early adopter behaviour supporting this in some of the Government customers addressed by Gemalto. Digital identity solutions such as Mobile ID is a key strategic move for governments driving digital transformation, and helping them construct advanced national identity schemes.
Indeed, the number of government-to-citizen digital transactions is said to grow 30% by 2020 (BCG 2015). Having a Mobile-ID option will become increasingly convenient. As citizens, managing health, organizing children’s education, taking out a loan (or investing savings), signing a rental contract or exercising civil rights are all important acts which can be managed in the digital space, as long as this can be done with confidence and peace of mind with regard to their validity.
Early adopters of Mobile ID have included countries where market penetration of mobile phones and new technology is particularly advanced, such as Austria, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Turkey. Some of these countries have moved to Mobile ID (including m-government services, building upon existing e-ID platforms). In 2014, Oman was the first country in the Middle East to complement its national electronic ID card with a mobile ID scheme.
Similar sentiments exist in the business and consumer segments which open up both great opportunities and significant obligations for those looking after customer data. Privacy will continue to be exceptionally important. The study shows that even if service providers gave consumers the right offer, only 8% of people are willing to trade personal data to subsidise mobile service costs. This is understandable as there still appears to be a relatively high level of distrust among consumers when it comes to their privacy and the telecoms industry.
Managing your digital security. It all boils down to trust issues
When asked “Who will manage your digital identity”, an overwhelming majority (74%) said they would manage it themselves. This is reasonable as consumer trust would have to be exceptionally high having it managed by a company like Google or Apple. However, the proportion of users who expect their identities to be managed by another party is still higher than anticipated. A quarter (24%) of users expect large companies such as Amazon to manage their identity in 2025 – a major move that would shift the onus of responsibility for identity management away from the consumer. Consequently, the pressure on companies to keep their customers’ identities and personal info secure would be higher than ever before.
Managing this pressure can be achieved in the same way that Mobile ID addresses the need for authentication that a Governments citizens have, as described earlier. Spanning the government and private sectors, Gemalto recently launched the Mobile Connect trial taking place between Spain and Finland, where customers of participating operators can log-in to the e-Government online service in a private, trusted and secure manner. Mobile Connect is an initiative from the GSMA that aims to provide a universal login service for everybody worldwide. It is a solution for a single and secure digital identity that uses a secure and convenient mobile phone-based second factor authentication, and consent-based digital identity management. It provides the credibility that commercial initiations like Banks, MNO’ or Enterprises require to allowing their customers to access online services in a private, trusted and secure environment.
In Nigeria for example, the first commercial rollout of GSMA Mobile Connect authentication was launched. The Mobile ID Service offers a simple, single process to securely login to online services, confirm transactions and sign documents – done by signing into websites quickly and securely by using their mobile phones.
2025 and beyond…
To benefit from widespread success, Mobile ID services will be dependent on collaboration between public authorities, banks, telecom operators and the private sector. The first key factor is the role of government in creating a trusted framework and the second is to provide user protection when utilizing online services.
What we must learn from all of this is not just the surprises though – a significant amount of development will be required in both the public and private sectors to meet consumer expectations of the future. Keeping end users happy will be a team game, at least for the next decade. How else will we develop trust with our customers, giving them the confidence to transact securely online? How else will we meet the demand from half of the survey’s respondents expecting their smartphones to become the main form of ID?
As we get closer to 2025 and beyond, the expectations will only grow in ambition, complexity and diversity. As we all work together to meet these, it is crucial we ensure security is a primary focus throughout, without compromising convenience and the overall customer experience along the way.
By: Remi de-Fouchier, VP Marketing Communications at Gemalto