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Having formed the Mobile Authentication Taskforce last September to develop a next-generation identity verification system for cellular device users, top U.S. carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon today announced that their multi-factor ID confirmation solution will be available to consumers by the end of 2018. Developers will be able to create compatible apps later this year, ahead of the consumer release.

Unlike two-factor authentication, which typically relies on a password plus a PIN code retrieved from a trusted device, the new multi-factor solution is expected to be simpler and more secure, using an encrypted, device-specific profile to confirm a user’s identity. Unique details — including the phone’s network-verified phone number, IP address, SIM card details, phone account type, and account tenure — will be included in the profile. Much like modern credit card transactions, a risk assessment engine with AI and advanced analytics will then process each profile, confirming or denying the identity.

Encouraged by the global mobile operators’ association GSMA, the Mobile Authentication Taskforce was created to protect U.S. customers and businesses from identity theft, data theft, bank fraud, and fraudulent purchases. The goal was to unify the top U.S. carriers to work toward a common goal, developing a “highly secure and trusted multi-factor authentication platform” in coordination with the efforts of carriers elsewhere in the world.

“As mobile becomes the remote control for day-to-day life, mobile identity is key to making things simpler and more secure for consumers,” said GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair. “The GSMA has been working with operators around the world to bring a consistent and interoperable, secure identity service, and this task force will strengthen that effort by enabling a simple user experience quickly and conveniently in the U.S. market.”

After launching its website later this year, the task force will allow developers to register for the system. They will then be able to submit apps through a system using “private and permissioned blockchain technology to help ensure application integrity.” Carriers will begin trials of the system over the next few weeks.

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