Data Attributes as the New Digital Identity

Where do you know someone from? While you might look at yourself as one, indivisible identity, from a social point of view you are many personas – a member of a family, an employee at a company, a player on a sports team, a friend in a social group. You are often simultaneously a citizen, a resident, a voter, a driver, a credit user, a utility user, a phone user and each aspect of identity adds a data attribute to create your digital identity.

The variety and distinctiveness of unique data attributes delivers opportunities to verify a person’s identity, as well as safeguard it. Cross-referencing a data attribute from one source to another improves data reliability while providing risk mitigation; while one source might be inaccurate, the odds that multiple data sources have the same inaccuracies decreases statistically. As there’s no absolute guarantee on data accuracy from any single source — adding independent data sources provides a method to increase identity verification reliability.

Keeping data attributes separate also provides individuals with privacy protections. In this era of massive data breaches, having all of one’s data in one place is an immense risk, introducing one point of failure to access a person’s entire digital identity. After all, do you really want or need your credit information and driver’s information to be collated together?

MNO Data

A new source of identity information that is gaining traction is mobile network operator (MNO) data. MNO data provides valuable attributes that make it an exciting opportunity for businesses looking to improve their verification processes. With an estimated 4.8 billion mobile devices worldwide, this is an enormous data set with equally enormous potential for helping resolve identity verification challenges.

Beyond the sheer number of users, there are numerous data attributes that are unique to MNO providers and point to a future that offers a richer, more secure user experience while improving customer onboarding and risk mitigation for businesses:

  • Location data
  • Biometric data
  • Payment data
  • Usage data

Accessing MNO data and running effective checks against that data offers another set of attributes that can speed up the approval process or uncover fraudulent activity. While the availability of these types of MNO data is new or coming soon, the ability to analyze and integrate the information portends whole new levels of data intelligence. Since these data attributes can be verified directly by mobile network operators, the strength of authentication and security improves, while the risk of fraud significantly decreases.

While MNO data offers many benefits, it is no panacea, no silver bullet solution that will solve all identity issues once and for all. But it is a valuable set of attributes that contributes to building greater trust in the verification process.

Data Tenure

Consider in real life how’d you identify someone. There are two factors – how you met someone and how long you’ve known them. Tenure provides context to the relationship and indicates a level of trust.

Just as in real life, tenure can provide context to build trust in a relationship with a consumer. What is their payment history? What type of interactions have you had? The whole concept of a credit bureau is built up on the concept on tenure.

For MNOs to make full use of their data relationships with consumers, they need to provide tenure data. As the world becomes more mobile and the phone becomes an even more of an always-there extension of ourselves, the MNO relationship with the consumer promises to become a key identifier.

Just as people have multiple aspects of their individual identity, digital identity will always require different data sources and attributes. Combining the traditional sources with new MNO data opportunities is the way to ensure the best of all data worlds – the best coverage, the best onboarding, the best privacy, the best risk mitigation and the best user experience. It is in the smart cross-referencing of the right data through the right sources that the promises of new digital identity can fully take hold.