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Predictions for the Mobile Industry in 2023

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By Jason Lunn, Mobile Ecosystem Forum Board Member

Currently, mobile operators are really struggling to find ways to grow their revenues beyond traditional services: voice, SMS and data. One asset mobile operators can monetise is mobile identity. Over the coming year, I expect we will see a breakout of systems whereby enterprise can query mobile operators to verify a customer’s age, address, credit status, etc. This information is known and verified by mobile operators to establish a contract, and it is tied to a unique number: a phone number. So, phone numbers could become the unique identifier to verify all this information.

It will be interesting to see how enterprise will take all those pieces of information and use it to formulate an opinion on a customer that can be used and monetised. It would make things much easier for customers – rather than filling out forms and completing Know Your Customer (KYC) data, they could simply link their mobile number. In turn, this would also be very helpful to businesses.

So, what else has 2023 in store for the mobile industry? I asked a few my fellow members of the Board of Directors at The Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) to share their predictions for the mobile industry in 2023.

Prediction: Verifiable credentials will gain major traction

Andrew Bud CBE FREng MEF Board Chair and Founder & CEO iProov

In 2023 we will see the use of Verifiable Credentials start to gain real traction. It’s the next generation of digital identity in which people keep their identity information in their own personal digital vault rather than it being managed by a third party.

So, for example, if a user visits a website, they can quickly and securely verify their identity and other key information, such as date of birth. The source of that information will not be on some central database but a set of cryptographically signed documents that the user controls either on their device or in a personal data vault.

And the important thing is that everything about those transactions will be standardised by brand new World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards. So, the key to this is not the technology but the W3C standards.

This will also help solve the dual problems of digital identity and personal authentication. These are two very different problems. In the case of digital identity, the biographical information is either true or it’s false and it all relates to a single individual who owns that digital identity.

But with personal authentication, we need to ensure that the person asserting that digital identity is entitled to own that set of information. So, one part is about assembling and authenticating the biographical details and personal information while the other is making sure that you are the physical human being to whom that information belongs.

As the technology converges around this issue, we will see some great solutions that will create a new layer of trust around verified credentials. This will benefit everyone, especially those in developing countries where bank accounts and documentation are less common. With trusted verified credentials, people in these regions will suddenly be able to access a whole range of services that were previously closed off to them. That’s going to be a real game-changer.

Prediction: IOT security standards are coming

Dawood Ghalaieny, MEF Board Member and CEO of Zariot

With the increasing number and complexity of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and the amount of sensitive data they collect and transmit, security is a critical concern. Ensuring the security of IoT systems is essential both for protecting the privacy and safety of individuals and organisations, as well as maintaining the integrity and reliability of critical infrastructure.

For example, consider the effect of everyone in the UK turning on their washing machine at the same time. Not only might it overload the national grid, but it could also lead to a temporary water shortage. Instead of washing machines, consider a similar scenario with IoT devices. As IoT devices—such as EV charging points—become commonplace, the risk and damage an attack might cause increases.

Unfortunately, the industry is failing to self-regulate when it comes to IoT security. Paying a premium to enforce IoT security or standards isn’t profitable, so there is no incentive for device manufacturers to worry. As a result, regulators are currently grappling with the issue and will likely be publishing legislation in 2023.

This will make it more difficult for businesses to enter the IoT market and existing market players will need to be ready to develop stricter IoT security standards in response to this legislation. Rather than simply pushing new products out to market, manufacturers will need to address security issues by embedding measures such as encryption, authentication, access control, and vulnerability management into their IoT devices. So, prepare now!

Prediction: Conversational AI will grow rapidly

Waheed Adam, MEF Board Member and Executive Chairperson at iTouch

In the coming year, we will see a huge shift in Rich Communication Services (RCS), with many more enterprises having conversations with their customers rather than a one-way unilateral communication.

Brands are already slowly evolving into a more human-like entity. Even on social media, brands are almost emulating human behaviour to the world at large, which helps them embody their value systems. It also helps showcase their offerings as a human salesperson would, conversing with their end consumers in that same tonality.

With the rapid development in Conversational AI, powered by Conversational Process Automation (CPA), artificial intelligence can bridge the gap between the customer and process automation systems by automating both conversations and processes.

So, a business could launch a WhatsApp channel, showcase their items and then allow customers to converse with an online AI salesperson to ask questions and complete their purchase.

The power of Conversational AI can be combined with breakthrough innovative payment technology, such as Unified Payment Interface (UPI), to allow customers to make bank payments instantaneously via their mobile number.

So, not only can customers browse through a carousel of products and talk to a sales AI, but they can even select the items, put them in a cart, and actually make the online payment transaction through WhatsApp. There is no need to step out of the WhatsApp ecosystem onto an external website. Everything is available end-to-end.

This is a powerful process and adds a lot of value to OTT services like WhatsApp and its regional equivalents. It brings omnichannel processes into a single channel, joining up the user’s journey on their behalf.

Prediction: Reverse brain drain

Anurag Aggarwal, MEF Board Member and VP Partnership and Alliances at Tanla

The global West has been the dominant market for technology. But with the shift in digital transformation due to lockdown, the workforce is being redistributed, both between different organisations as well as geographic locations.

Take India. As a developing nation, India has often had to align foreign and economic policy with the West. But India has roughly a sixth of the global population. Prime Minister Modi has recognised this economic potential and, over the past three years, has established a very successful program to make India a self-contained economy.

As a result, 2023 will see a reverse brain drain. Given the opportunities available, especially in the technology and the telecom space, a lot of that talent which moved out of India to the likes of US and UK is likely to move back over the coming years.

One effect of this will be that India will begin dominating the overall tech space and we will see more of Indians innovating solutions for India rather than for the global West.

Other countries may also follow suit. China and African nations are key areas to look out for. With their huge populations and greater access to technology and information, China and Africa could well become the tech powerhouses of the future. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Lunn is a Board Member of MEF (Mobile Ecosystem Forum) a global trade body established in 2000 and headquartered in the UK with members across the world. As the voice of the mobile ecosystem, it focuses on cross-industry best practices, anti-fraud and monetisation. The Forum provides its members with global and cross-sector platforms for networking, collaboration and advancing industry solutions.

Web: https://mobileecosystemforum.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mef

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/mobile-ecosystem-forum

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MobileEcosystemForum/

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