Mobile Data & Consumer Authentication

More consumers have mobile phones than have credit cards. This is true in the United States as well as globally and in all major markets. The mobile device has become ubiquitous, something most consumers feel they need so much they’d rather leave home without their wallets than their mobile phones. The majority of mobile phones belong to consumers that have contracts and subscriptions to mobile services, meaning the numbers they are providing are not temporary. Even though mobile has become so dominant as an identifier, only some companies are utilizing mobile authentication data to some extent in their risk programs while many companies are not; in fact some companies still choose not to collect phone information at all.


For any organization doing business in the Customer Not Present (CNP) channel, establishing e-Identity is crucial for building trust in an online user so organizations can feel comfortable enough to accept payment and provide a good or service with the confidence the consumer is who they claim to be. Performing consumer authentication is one of the ways companies get “comfortable” with consumers online, and organizations collect several different pieces of information to verify they actually go together. A consumer’s mobile phone number is just one piece of information that merchants can collect, but surprisingly many still do not. While reverse lookups on a name or an address can provide enough information to authenticate a consumer, organizations run the risk of false positives when out of date information cannot confirm that a consumer’s name and provided address actually go together. Millions of people in the United States move each year, but the data can take some time to catch up.


Unlike fixed-line phones, when consumers move they take their mobile phone numbers with them, even into different states and area codes they very often keep their existing phone numbers. When consumers get new mobile devices, or even switch wireless carriers, most of the time they keep the same phone number thanks to an FCC requirement that all providers offer phone number portability. When using mobile data for authenticating consumer information, not only are you going to be collecting a piece of information that almost every consumer has, but you are collecting information that is tied to their name and likely has been for some time. Even when consumers move and the new address information isn’t up to date, the phone number to name match will still provide partial authentication.


A mobile phone number is something almost every potential customer can provide, and for making the most out of consumer authentication within your risk management program it is data that should be collected. If you are just asking for a general phone number, consider asking consumers to provide a mobile as well. At the very least this will provide another data point for authentication and in many cases may provide information that wasn’t associated with the consumer’s fixed-line phone. As mobile device payments and technology continue to develop, the collecting of mobile numbers will become even more valuable.


To learn more, download a free copy of The Fraud Practice’s latest white paper “Getting the Most out of Consumer Authentication with Mobile Data” or sign up for the free webinar on August 22, 2013 hosted by Cardnotpresent.com and sponsored by White Pages Pro.