Startup City Magazine

Behind 10-Digits, It's You

By Priyam Bose, ‎Director & Head, Worldwide Developer Relations, Truecaller

Priyam Bose, ‎Director & Head, Worldwide Developer Relations, Truecaller

Headquartered in Sweden, Truecaller acts as the leading search technology entity that’s transforms the phonebook with a set of intelligent and useful services.

Mobile phone is undoubtedly becoming the daily lifeline tool for the masses in India. Country’s mobile phone subscriber base crested the 1 billion user mark, as per the recent data released by TRAI. Fueled by computing power, in-hand connected experience powered by affordability and sachet based data costs, these smart devices are offering more tooth brush utilities to be used by first linking Indian users to their digital identities.

The assumption is that you already have a digital identity, or you are expected to create and use one. No matter how steep the learning curve is. Going by a recent industry report projection by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), India should have well over 371 million users accessing internet through smartphones, and many more to come. This means, if you have data on your phone you are connected to the world of internet, and if you are connected you have a digital identity. Flip this to data connectivity on these smartphones which, more often than not is activated through your phone number, this makes your 10-digit phone number your identity. Even before when you take your first voice subscription on your phone, it starts and ends with your phone number. But can your 10-digit phone number based identity become your defacto mobile identity and become a gateway to all your digital or mobile services and apps which you use or would use on the smartphone?

Exciting to know, this journey has already begun and it is accelerating.

Mobile Identity and Consumers

It’s important to realize that the concept of using your phone number as your identity is not something new. Notice next time when you order a pizza, for instance. It’s your number that leads your identity while name comes after. Likewise, when you are booking a doctor’s appointment or recharging your phone subscription and many such daily use cases. This is only because your phone number is unique and represents no one else, but you.

Unlike phone numbers, email based verification is slightly trickier. It is fair to say that it is fragmented, and it is easy to create, and access. Even though it is personal, it can easily be duped and you have no control over someone setting up an alternate digital identity with your name. Hence, the credibility of an email verification is low.

While high credibility is one of the key reasons, but security and convenience cannot be ignored either. Phone numbers on the other hand are not that easy to fake since one has to get hold of a physical SIM card, mandatory KYC norms etc.

Mobile Identity for businesses

As a mobile app start-up or a brand with an app, simple and frictionless onboarding and verification process plays a critical role in early and continued adoption of their app. That means more users, growth and engagement for them.

While e-mail based options are there, it includes added layers in the process that often results in user drop-offs. One of them is obtaining One Time Password (OTP) to further the sign-up process or as a standalone process by verifying the phone number based identity. Present option of having OTP as a verification tool has a few disadvantages owing to the manual intervention especially in the limited real estate smartphones, connectivity issues like latency and message drops in our country. Additionally, the OTP option comes at an additional cost to the third party app in the form of SMS charges.

With phone numbers quickly becoming the primary personal identity to verify users in the global mobile arena, app developers are looking for ways to minimize friction and hence drop-offs in user onboarding and engagement flow.

Our mission at Truecaller has always been to provide as much information as possible to users about who they are communicating in their daily life. In this process, we realized the power and importance of a mobile number, especially when it comes to personal identification and using that to present and represent oneself in various other third-party apps. This also aligns with our journey of becoming the mobile identity platform of choice for millions and millions of users.

We believe that instead of having every app developer build and maintain their own systems, they can now use solutions like TrueSDK and instead focus more on their core aspects of their app led offerings. In addition, it offers users a frictionless way to register or on-board these 3rd party mobile apps and services and easily start up experiencing the core offerings from them.

As we witness continued adoption of such services and increased awareness among users to be using their phone number based mobile identities, phone numbers are all set to play a critical role for the users as well as app start-ups and developers. Phone numbers, as a user’s unique identity, is taking a giant leap forward, and with increasing ambiguity in our digital identities, it is the most credible available option at the moment and will be so in the foreseeable future and especially in growth and emerging markets around the world.

Indeed behind those 10-digits, it’s you.

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