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Singapore operators sign up payment providers in Mobile Connect push

EZ-Link and Nets are among a handful of partners Singapore's three mobile carriers have roped in to support the GSMA authentication standard, allowing users to access services via their mobile number, but details on local implementation will be available only when services go live later this year.

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(Source: GSMA)

Payment services providers, Nets and EZ-Link, are among a handful of businesses in Singapore that have signed up to support a GSMA authentication standard, which will enable users to access services via their mobile number.

HungryGoWhere, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), Singtel Dash, WTS Travel, and Fox Networks Group, also agreed to support Mobile Connect and allow their customers to log into their apps and websites without their respective usernames and passwords, said the country's three mobile operators--M1, StarHub, and Singtel--in a joint statement Friday.

The carriers last November had announced plans to adopt Mobile Connect, a GSMA standard that would create a single digital user identity, matching users' mobile phone numbers to their personal identity. This meant they could bypass the need to remember usernames and passwords to access supporting services and use their mobile number as a single sign-on tool.

Both the mobile operator and service provider would need to adopt the OpenID Connect standard, on which Mobile Connect operated and used to exchange an authentication token between the two parties.

According to the Singapore telcos, supporting services would be available to the public later this year. With the service providers signed up so far, local consumers could tap Mobile Connect to make payments via Nets, top up stored value for public transport rides, purchase travel services, as well as pay for food delivery.

A unique personal code would be generated to facilitate authentication with the partnering service providers, so no information would be made available to these businesses without the customers' approval.

ZDNet asked for details on whether biometrics authentication such as fingerprint and iris scanning would be supported, how the various components such as the identity gateway would be implemented locally, and what security measures would be put in place to mitigate potential risks.

The telcos sent this reply: "Security and fraud prevention is a key consideration for Mobile Connect. We will be able to share more details on how we will ensure this when Mobile Connect-supported services are launched later this year."

Worldwide, the GSMA standard currently was supported by some 800 operators and launched by 52 in 29 markets, including China Mobile, Airtel in India, Indosat in Indonesia, Digi in Malaysia, O2 in UK, and Orange in France.

Singtel's Singapore consumer CEO Yuen Kuan Moon said: "This marks the first time the industry has come together to work on a solution that brings convenience to both business owners and consumers. Seamless, secure, and convenient buying experiences are real currency in our increasingly digital economy and we expect more businesses to jump on board and implement Mobile Connect."

StarHub CEO Tan Tong Hai added: "We believe the traditional norms of managing multiple usernames and passwords will soon become history."

Nets' deputy head of business services Alvin Seck said: "Mobile Connect makes it easier for consumers to pay on their mobile devices by authenticating, authorising, or identifying themselves securely with a single log-in solution on our eNETS online payment gateway."