Singapore telcos to roll out Mobile Connect, promising simple, secure logins

November 29th, 2016 | by Alfred Siew
Singapore telcos to roll out Mobile Connect, promising simple, secure logins
PHOTO: Wilson Wong for Techgoondu

PHOTO: Wilson Wong for Techgoondu

M1, Singtel and StarHub are building a unified system that enables mobile phone users to log in to a variety of online services by simply registering their phones once with them.

Called Mobile Connect, the authentication method enables a user to rely on his mobile number to gain access to different websites and services, instead of remembering his username and password each time.

By responding to interactive prompts on his phone, he can use his phone number as a unique ID when logging in. Transactions that require more security, say, for banking or travel, could require an additional personal code.

The technology, originating from the GSM Association that represents mobile operators, places the task of identifying and authenticating users on telecom operators.

The idea is that they can reliably do so since they already make use of secure methods to identify who each user is on their networks.

To get the service up and running in Singapore by the second half of next year, the three telcos here will have to build up their online gateways and allow other online services to connect securely via them.

They said today that they are doing so by using a common application programming interface (API) that makes it easy for online service providers, say, banks or e-commerce sites, to link up with.

This is yet another effort to get users to log on securely to online services on the go. Smartphone makers such as Apple and Samsung have their own offerings with banks that make use of a fingerprint to enable a purchase at a mall, for example.

At the same time, with more trust being placed on a mobile device, users are also seeing an increasing amount of cyber attacks.

The phone, long used as a way of authenticating users for other online services, has been broken into by smart hackers looking to find a new way around the new defences put in their way.

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