It is beginning to look as if the tide is turning for telecoms operators. It also seems as if, finally, they are in a position to play a major role in the identity business.
According to Juniper Research, the identity business will be a $7 billion opportunity for telecoms operators and 40% of people will have mobile based identity documents by 2024.
The research suggests that the mobile device will be the primary source of identity for 3 billion people and that this will be prevalent in emerging economies such as some countries in SE Asia and Africa, where card based identity mechanisms are not so common. Mobile is also easier to scale.
Operators will not have this opportunity to themselves, of course, as third party apps and device manufacturers will be looking at this space with great interest.
The result, though, could possibly be greater security for customers and a new revenue stream for telecoms operators.
Identity is just one area where operators could find new revenues to stem the ebbing tide of revenues from traditional services. We are also finding that, in the world of fines and law suits among the big tech companies, customer trust in telecoms operators is growing.
Now that 5G is a reality and demand is better than anyone could have hoped, that trust will only grow.
As Niall Norton, CEO of Openet, points out in his recent blog post:
‘A recent Telecoms.com survey of telecoms professionals, looking at forthcoming 5G opportunities, revealed that 71% of respondents think 5G will boost ARPU. What’s more, nearly a third think it will be boosted by more than a margin of 10%’.
That is good news, and genuinely could be the saving of the telecoms industry.
What’s more, the extraordinary story emerging from South Korea points to customers’ data usage exploding (as predicted perhaps) and their perception of value from 5G is as good as can be expected, even hoped for.
SK Telecom are pushing this perception by offering no less than 8,000 propositions, some – around AR and VR – that digital service providers simply cannot offer and some that will compete with them, head on.
For many years, industry observers and pundits have talked about what will replace the margins and business prospects for telecoms operators. Discussions around different services, and billing for third parties seemed endless and less and less likely to happen.
Now, though, it is beginning to look as if they were right after all.
Time will tell, obviously, but the chances are looking better than at any time in the last few years that telecoms operators are genuinely in a position to leverage a growing trust and find arenas, such as identity, where they add more value than anyone else.