Mobile World Congress is the largest mobile conference in the world for the mobile and telecom industry. Boasting over 100,000 visitors from 200 countries, the event is an excellent opportunity to get more insights into the latest mobile trends. Yet, most of the content that emerges from Mobile World Congress is focused on devices and hardware, like the 5G network and foldable cell phones. Aside from new devices, Mobile World Congress is also a place to debate the latest underlying narratives and trends that have a larger impact on the mobile industry that will impact how people move through the world.
We live in a world that is increasingly connected, and it has fundamentally transformed aspects of our lives overnight, like calling a cab, doing our finances, or sharing photos. While the benefits of our connected world are easy to grasp, the challenges are starting to sink in, like customer privacy and data protection. This year, the theme in Barcelona was “Intelligent Connectivity,” which describes our current challenges perfectly. We want the benefits of connectivity, but we need to be connected in a thoughtful way, increasing benefits and mitigating unforeseen consequences.
What does “Intelligent Connectivity” really mean? I summarized it in 5 key trends that emerged from Mobile World Congress 2019.
Identity is key for mobile and telecom industry. As mobile phones have evolved and technology has developed quickly, these devices have become an essential part of our daily lives. Since 2011, smartphone ownership is up over 40 percent. What’s more, tech advancements and extra connectivity have made it possible to use our mobile devices for more than just email, messaging, and social media.
New technology enables for identity and mobile to integrate so that your mobile device becomes your identity wallet. This mobile identity allows access to other apps, no username or password required. It can be used in place of a physical ID. It can be used for payment. These are the opportunities that identity and mobile technology offer in combination, and we expect to see strides in this in 2019.
Data protection is more important than ever. Connectivity and mobile device technology means that our lives are increasingly digital. Bank details and medical records are now information accessible through the average person’s phone. Even more, meta information, like how quickly people answer emails or what websites folks search, offer insight into our lives.
As companies are aggregating this information and using it, data privacy concerns are mounting, and much of this data that people are concerned with protecting sits on the mobile network. This places a huge burden on an expanding industry, not only to adapt and create the newest technology but to figure out how to protect all the information that this technology is amassing inside our mobile devices.
Stricter data protection regulations are here to stay. There really isn’t an industry that GDPR has not impacted. This is true, especially for mobile. Mobile devices have become our window to the Internet on the go, and mobile strategy has to be a part of GDPR compliance. For example, telecom providers need the ability to anonymize data sets, as well as being able to provide customers electronic copies of their records, along with the ability to remove such records if requested.
GDPR compliance has been a challenge for many businesses, but ultimately, it is an opportunity to improve consumer protection and data privacy practices around the globe. And as we continue to see the consequences of data breaches and honeypots of personal data, we should expect that we will only see more regulations and rules that mimic the sentiment of GDPR.
Consent has become table stakes and opens a world of opportunity. We’re not going to stop putting our information on the Internet, but with GDPR and new state privacy laws, there will be expectations and stricter rules around data security and data sharing. People want to understand where their information is shared and why. For example, the Civic App is designed to let users know, and approve, exactly which pieces of information are being shared. In this day in age, it’s important to make sure that people are not oversharing or sharing unnecessary information.
In the future, new technology could even give people the ability to influence how that information is used and give consumers the ability to benefits if and when that information is used.
Usernames and passwords are outdated. Passwordless login is the future. Credentials are a huge security problem. 3.3 billion credentials were spilled in 2016. That’s 3.3. billion accounts that are not secure and vulnerable to being hacked. At Mobile World Congress, Google announced the latest Android phones will enable apps that only require a fingerprint or FIDO security key to authenticate users.
Biometrics and passwordless login have been crucial as Civic is developing our Secure Identity Platform, but we’re going to start seeing more and more companies explore these passwordless solutions.
These security trends might not be as riveting as the first foldable cell phone, but ultimately, these trends that we’re adopting are going to shape the mobile industry more than flashy devices, creating a better experience for everyone in a secure, consent-based environment.