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Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile & Sprint announce ‘Project Verify’ mobile auth initiative to replace app passwords – One World Identity

September 13, 2018

The “big four” U.S. wireless providers on Thursday announced a new digital identity-focused initiative dubbed “Project Verify,” which will authenticate users in mobile apps, negating the need for a traditional password.

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Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint — under their Mobile Authentication Taskforce partnership — hopes to shake up identity management in the digital world. Its plan would replace passwords with a device-based form of multi-factor authentication.

The carriers say that privacy will be primary concern for the initiative, allowing users to specifically choose what information they share when they authorize access to their account.

Through the system, a user’s identification will be backed by a unique account and device details, protected with mobile network authentication through the wireless providers.

Identities will be verified through network intelligence, matching the user’s device SIM card to owner details, simplifying the Authentication and Verification steps of OWI’s Identity Building Blocks.

The initiative would make the physical mobile device itself, rather than an email address or service like Facebook, the centerpiece of a user’s digital identity. Doing so has security advantages, such as being tied to a single device, as well as the added convenience of not needing to remember passwords.

Tying identity to a device also presents challenges, however, such as if a device is stolen or unlocked without the user’s consent or knowledge.

The big four partnership was announced back in March, teasing a next-generation mobile authentication solution planned to launch by the end fo this year. The carriers previously announced they would leverage analytics and machine learning capabilities to assess risk and protect customers, while the system will be interoperable with GSMA’s Mobile Connect technology.

Three of the parties — Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile — came together in late 2013 to form a mobile payments system, to compete with the likes of Apple Pay. However, the system — first known as Isis and later rebranded Softcard — required a special SIM card as well as a prepaid American Express account. Softcard was eventually rolled into Google Wallet, which was later turned into Google Pay.

OWI Insight: Almost everyone in America has a mobile, connected device on or near them at all times. Making it the centerpiece of digital identity — and even beyond — makes sense. However, questions remain about security and privacy, as well as whether the big four can play nicely with each other long enough to allow the project to take off.