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German mobile operators launch service to combat online fraud

As part of the global GSMA Open Gateway initiative, Germany’s three main mobile operators – Deutsche Telekom, O2 Telefónica and Vodafone – today announced the commercial launch of a new service designed to help app developers and enterprises tackle online fraud and protect the digital identities of mobile customers.

The network APIs represent a new business model for the German operators by bringing these network capabilities to developers and enterprises to improve existing services or create new services. The German mobile industry expects today’s announcement to accelerate the growth of digital services and apps, by ensuring they integrate seamlessly with national mobile networks, as well as hundreds of others around the world.

The two network APIs (Application Programmable Interfaces) are available in the CAMARA standard and can help mobile commerce and financial institutions develop new services to combat digital fraud and protect Germany’s mobile subscribers. For example, identification for logging in to user accounts of websites and apps can now run automatically in the background via number verification instead of two-factor authentication, where customers receive a one-time password by SMS and must manually enter it.

The three operators are working with technology partner Vonage, part of Ericsson, to make the APIs available to enterprise developers. Vonage is already working together with its customer, Vinted, Europe’s leading international online C2C marketplace dedicated to second-hand fashion, to integrate these new APIs.

Launched at MWC Barcelona a year ago, the GSMA Open Gateway is a common and open framework between operators to make it easier for app developers, enterprises and cloud providers to build safer apps and services that seamlessly communicate with each other. This is done through single, programmable, access points to mobile networks known as APIs. From Argentina to China, the USA to Australia, 47 mobile operator groups worldwide, representing 239 mobile networks and 65% of global connections are already part of the initiative.

Improving online security and tackling mobile fraud

Fraud prevention is one of the most important issues that app developers in every market are looking to address right now, with fraudulent misuse and fake accounts representing a major threat to their business models.

The new Open Gateway APIs launched today will allow developer teams and partners to create new intelligent layers of customer authentication, verification, and security within mobile phone networks.

The new services will also make online authentication simpler and faster for online customers, as mobile applications, cloud services and connectivity networks will all be interoperable through the APIs.

The APIs to be introduced by German operators are:

  • Number Verify: Is commercially launched and will be used to verify a user’s mobile number by providing the next generation of strong authentication and user experience. It is a simple evolution path for any business that uses mobile numbers and SMS One-Time-Passwords. Instead of relying on SMS, Number Verify can be seamlessly and automatically activated to verify a user’s identity. This not only enhances the user experience but also mitigates potential issues, such as users not receiving an SMS or facing difficulties due to limited familiarity with technology.
  • SIM Swap: Is available for developer’s preview and will be used to check whether a given phone number has recently changed SIM cards. This helps mitigate account takeover attacks, in which fraudsters take control of the account owner’s SIM card using social engineering techniques and stolen personal data. For example, at the time of a financial transaction, a financial institution can check whether the relationship between the customer’s phone number and SIM Card has been recently changed, helping them decide whether to approve the transaction or not.

German operators work with Siemens Energy to test Quality on Demand API
German operators are already working on additional APIs and are also testing Quality-on-Demand (QoD) APIs. The mobile industry hopes to enable new services around augmented reality, robotics, commercial drone use, and immersive online gaming, through these APIs, by ensuring data connections are optimized to achieve constant and reliable connections, even with lower latency.

One business partner who Deutsche Telekom, O2 Telefónica and Vodafone are testing QoD APIs with is Siemens Energy. Siemens Energy operates in more than 90 countries and supports customers across the energy sector. On-site technicians are using Microsoft HoloLens 2 and Remote Assist, an augmented reality application. The application displays critical information and guidance directly in the technicians’ field of view. With these tools, remote experts can support the technicians and help solve complex problems.

Siemens Energy is using the APIs to perform virtually assisted remote maintenance that requires consistently high network quality to enable broad deployment even in locations without stable connectivity.

“The Quality-on-Demand network API is improving the daily work of our experts. Our remote engineers can now interact through the augmented headsets with minimal delay, in the best resolution. This ensures that they can provide the best possible advice to their colleagues on site and increase customer satisfaction,” said Mark Schaefer, Siemens Energy Vice President IT Business. “By ensuring a quality connection, we’re improving our maintenance turnaround times while reducing travel times, costs and environmental footprint. The mobile industry unifying behind this common framework also means we will be able to roll this solution out in more markets, without having to worry about integration complexities in each country.”

GSMA Open Gateway Plans for 2024
As part of the GSMA Open Gateway initiative, these APIs will be locally and globally federated, meaning that as well as Germany’s mobile customers, developers will also be able to reach new customers outside of Germany as the initiative grows. Through the global initiative, businesses and developers can also access new markets with their services, allowing them to achieve new revenues by marketing them across the world.

Peter Arbitter, SVP Magenta API Capability Exposure (MACE), Deutsche Telekom, said: “5G network APIs represent an important new business area for telco operators. The GSMA Open Gateway initiative helps to broaden the reach of our offerings through aggregation in key markets for our customers, while maintaining a consistent user experience.”

Alfons Lösing, Chief Partner & Wholesale Officer of O2 Telefónica, said: “Open Gateway opens the door to new business models for mobile network operators. Based on our standardized network APIs we enable partners and app developers to drive forward new services for private and business customers and accelerate digital innovations. This will make our network even more important as a digital lifeline.”

Johanna Wood, Head of Developer Strategy of Vodafone, said: “Developers play a key part in the acceleration of innovative digital services within a scaled ecosystem between network operators and enterprises. Vodafone is excited to be part of the Open Gateway initiative, which is a significant step forward in making these services more accessible through the promotion of open standards in the developer community.”

Savinay Berry, Executive Vice President of Product and Engineering for Vonage, said: “Ericsson and Vonage are leading the development of a global network platform by opening the network for third-party developers to make capabilities universally available for further innovation. With developers thriving from a well-built and supported API platform, enterprises can grow from new, unique and customisable API innovations while communication service providers benefit from network monetisation and growth opportunities. We are committed to making CAMARA successful and aim to be a driver of the future evolution of CAMARA.”

Henry Calvert, Head of Networks, GSMA, said: “Online security and fraud are major challenges that we all need to overcome as an industry for customers to feel safe and for the market to flourish. It’s fantastic, therefore, to see Germany’s operators come together with technology partners and online commerce platforms to tackle this threat, through the Open Gateway initiative.”

Germany’s GSMA Open Gateway ecosystem is set for enhancement in 2024, with additional partners such as Microsoft Azure to make the first CAMARA APIs available. GSMA Open Gateway APIs are defined, developed, and published in CAMARA, the open-source project for developers to access enhanced network capabilities, driven by the Linux Foundation, in partnership with TM Forum.

CT Bureau

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