Understanding mobile identity

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It is not strange to spot people everywhere you go – office, market place, church, parties, or even on bikes – wielding more than one mobile device. This inseparable attachment to their mobile device is a feeling shared by many all over the world. The bond which stemmed from the proliferation of feature phones and has now evolved into smartphones has been fuelled by the intertwining of the functions of the mobile device to our everyday activities.

Five years ago, the mobile penetration subscription of Sub-Saharan Africa was estimated to be a little above 50 percent. Today, it stands at 80 percent according to the 2015 Ericsson Mobility Report. By 2021, this is expected to increase to 100% accounting for nearly 95% of the region’s mobile data traffic. Statistics from the Nigeria Communications Commission showed that Nigeria, as at September 2015, had 150.5 million active mobile users. According to the Communication Authority of Kenya, statistics report showed that as of June 2015, Kenya had 36.1 million mobile subscriptions which translate into penetration of 83.9%.

It has been said that more people access the internet via their mobile devices than on desktops. This further buttresses the important role mobile identity will play in fueling the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Your mobile phone number also forms a large portion of your mobile identity as it is unique to your person. It can be used to open bank accounts, operate mobile money accounts, used to register for new accounts on social media platforms, used on e-commerce platforms and a list of other functions.

Mobile network operators (MNO) expect existing network users to carry out SIM registration. This enables users to be protected from crimes. Around the world, at the point of purchasing a new SIM card, one is required to register it as without this, it is useless and cannot be used to perform any activity.

The Central Bank of Nigeria through the Banker’ Committee and in collaboration with all banks in Nigeria on February 14, 2014, launched a centralized biometric identification system for the banking industry tagged Bank Verification Number (BVN). It is a unique identifier that can be verified across the Nigerian Banking Industry and it ensures that Customers Bank Accounts are protected from unauthorized access. With this registration, if as little as the phone number used to open one account is different from another, one has to provide proof of ownership so a ban will not be placed on the account.

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