Global mobile industry body GSMA has launched a new platform called OneAPI Exchange, which will allow consumers to pay and authenticate for mobile apps through their phone numbers.

The organization has partnered with carriers like AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone for this initiative and the platform will be managed by the analytics and management solution provider Apigee.

How Does This Work? Through this platform, GSMA will be enabling operators to offer standardized APIs like location, messaging and payment APIs or offer their own customized APIs to app developers, who could use these APIs to build apps which can authenticate new users based on operator identity data and integrate carrier billing option within the app.

Interestingly, GSMA also mentions that this OneAPI exchange platform will allow developers to choose which other operator’s networks they would like to integrate within their apps, suggesting that developers will be able to offer support for multiple operators within their apps. Its exactly not clear as to how multiple operator support will be implemented within the apps, but GSMA notes that the platform will automatically map the APIs used by the app to those used by the consumer’s operator but all the billing, metrics and usage data will be streamlined through a single operator chosen by the developer.

Platforms: The organization claims that this platform will support all popular mobile platforms like Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone, Mobile Web and native HTML5 platforms from FirefoxOS, Tizen and Ubuntu.

Availability: GSMA however noted that OneAPI exchange is currently in a working proof of concept stage and a standardised identity API is expected to be available globally in Q2 2013, with a payment API expected to go live later this year.

OneAPI Gateway: GSMA had previously launched OneAPI Gateway on a commercial basis in 2012, across various Canadian operators like Bell Mobility, Rogers and TELUS.

This platform was operated by Transaction Network Services (TNS) and Aepona and allowed Canadian operators to offer standardised location, messaging and payment APIs to app developers, who could use them to integrate billing and mobile network services within their apps. The organization noted that this solution will now be integrated into OneAPI Exchange Solution.

Our Take: We feel this will be particularly interesting initiative to bring telecom operators into the loop, when app developers are integrating various login mechanisms like Facebook and Twitter authentication within their apps.

Unlike these mechanisms, a telco-based login mechanism can allow apps reach out to much larger user base who don’t have a Facebook or a Twitter account, since these users can make use of their phone number to login to the apps. These apps can also provide services like carrier billing and location detection among others to the users. However, it is yet to be seen if any Indian telco will actually make use of this platform to offer APIs to app developers.