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GSMA’s login API will replace passwords with mobile number logins

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We missed this earlier.

Users on Aircel, Bharti Airtel, Idea, Tata Indicom, Telenor and Vodafone can now use their unique mobile numbers to sign in into social networks sites, online bank accounts and make transactions online, without having to manually enter their username and password in the login page. This is possible through GSMA’s Mobile Connect login API, which exchanges traditional log-in method with a unique operator assigned mobile phone number.

The service claims to offer “safer and more secure” logins, since a user’s mobile number is being utilized as their online identity to verify it through a device owned by the user. The Mobile Connect login claims to be authenticated by a mobile operator without sharing any personal sensitive information to a third party or to a website or app a user is logging into, without their consent. This is especially interesting since multiple services, like Facebook and some bank logins for example, already use a mobile number to replace the username, but require a password to authenticate the login.

Supported services in India
Mobile Connect will soon be made available commercially to a wide range of digital service providers including GaneshaSpeaks, GoIbibo, Trupay, Twigly, Zee Digital Group and Zomato, etc. covering areas such as commerce, finance and banking, health services, media and entertainment and travel and hospitality. In addition, developers can integrate Mobile Connect service into their applications by integrating the API provided here.

How the service was built and deployed in India
The core functionally of the service was developed by GSMA and it mentions that for B2B services in India, Mobile Connect will provide unique mobile authentication deployed by BuyHatke and Times Mobile Ltd., enabled by mXpresso and will help prevent fraud installations and fake application downloads.

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Secure logins and transactions for banking services
“If the site or app requires a higher level of security, your bank for example, you may need to enter a personal code such as a PIN.  This will be a number that you have defined and will be the same for all logins requiring this level of security.  So, by using something you have with you (your mobile phone) and something only you know (your PIN) it ensures a highly secure login option to those accounts where this is required,” the Mobile Connect website mentions.

The mobile-based authentication solution was announced on Tuesday by GSMA; the feature is already live globally in 22 countries and supported by 42 mobile operators (including 6 Indian operators). GSMA claims that Mobile Connect will be made available to 3 billion users globally.

Registration and usability
It is not clear if there is an option to manually sign-up for the service, however the website says that a mobile operator will invite users to “pre-register for Mobile Connect, this invitation might be via a text message, an email or invitation from their customer care portal”. MediaNama has written to GSMA for further clarifications and will update the story once they respond.

Once the user is registered on Mobile Connect, a button logo will appear on supported apps and websites prompting users simply click on the button. If the site or app requires a higher level of security (in-case of banking services), you may need to enter a personal code such as a PIN. A spokesperson from GSMA clarified that a user can register for the service by clicking on the logo itself. Here is a list of registered operators

Here is a video on how this will work:

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