GSMA Open Gateway Initiative: Spanish Mobile Industry Set to Introduce Online Anti-Fraud and Identity Services

Major mobile operators in Spain, including Orange, Telefonica, and Vodafone, have unveiled two groundbreaking services aimed at combating online fraud and safeguarding the digital identities of mobile users. These initiatives, part of the global GSMA Open Gateway initiative, introduce two network API (Application Programmable Interface) services—Number Verification and SIM Swap. These APIs empower developer teams and partners to establish enhanced layers of customer authentication, verification, and security within mobile networks. The primary objective is to assist businesses, particularly financial institutions and online retailers, in mitigating identity fraud by bolstering user authentication and overall security.

The Number Verification and SIM Swap services are slated to debut at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, from February 26-29. The launch is timely, considering the surge in reported cybercrime cases in Spain, which increased by 72% in 2022 compared to 2019, with a significant proportion attributed to online fraud. This alarming trend underscores the critical need for advanced security measures within the digital landscape.

The GSMA Open Gateway initiative, introduced a year ago at MWC Barcelona, represents a transformative approach to how the global telecoms industry conceptualizes and introduces new mobile applications and digital services. The newly announced services, Number Verification and SIM Swap, are anticipated to streamline online authentication for customers, providing simplified and expedited access to mobile applications, cloud services, and connectivity networks through the respective APIs.

GSMA Open Gateway serves as a collaborative and open framework among operators, facilitating the development of safer applications and services that seamlessly communicate across networks. Currently, 42 mobile operator groups worldwide, encompassing 237 mobile networks and constituting 65% of global connections, actively participate in this initiative.

The two vital online verification and anti-fraud APIs unveiled by Spanish operators are:

  1. Number Verification: Designed to authenticate a user’s mobile number, this API offers the next generation of robust authentication and user experience. By automating the verification process, it enhances user experience while addressing potential issues such as SMS delivery failures or user difficulties with technology.
  2. SIM Swap: This API verifies if a given phone number has recently undergone a SIM card change. It aids in mitigating account takeover attacks, where fraudsters seize control of an account owner’s SIM card using social engineering techniques and pilfered personal data. For instance, financial institutions can use SIM Swap to verify if the customer’s phone number and SIM card relationship has recently changed before approving a transaction.

Orange, Telefonica, and Vodafone express their commitment to the Open Gateway initiative, emphasizing the role of these APIs in improving transaction security and enhancing user experience. The APIs will be made accessible through the Orange Developer portal, allowing developers to engage with and test these new services.

The Open Gateway initiative is poised to bolster the growth of digital services and applications by ensuring seamless integration with national and global mobile networks. The federated nature of these APIs allows developers to reach customers beyond Spain, thereby expanding market reach. The Spanish mobile industry foresees these developments as catalysts for digital service expansion, with plans to enhance the Open Gateway ecosystem in 2024 through partnerships with major entities like Microsoft, Vonage, and Infobip. The GSMA Open Gateway APIs, defined and developed within the CAMARA open-source project, present a pivotal opportunity for businesses and developers to tap into global markets and generate new revenues by offering their services worldwide.

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