Phone numbers to replace userIDs and passwords?

How many times have you tried to login to an online service or app on mobile and gotten frustrated entering your login details? In particular, entering complex passwords can be a pain. I was going through details of the new upgrade to Fring on the official blog when I saw something that jumped out at me as a potential resolution of the pain of logins on mobile. One of the new features of the Fring upgrade is this: a faster and simplified registration process (via phone number – instead of userID / passwords).

Yes; think about it. With each mobile number registered to a specific individual, the issue of identity is fixed. Use the phone number for authentication, and presto! usernames and passwords can be history. This isn’t something that we haven’t seen before either. Do you use WhatsApp? If yes; you do realise that userID and password are not required for use. Validation is done via your mobile number. That is an example of how this can be implemented, and it is already in use.

mobile authentication

I do not have all the details, but here is the basic principle: you type in your mobile number to receive an authentication code through SMS, then enter the authentication code to start using the app or service. It is faster and more convenient. Of course, there is the need for mobile networks to deliver SMS in real time. There may be the need for further tweaks to this, but replacing userIDs and passwords with phone numbers sounds a very pragmatic approach to authentication on mobile.

What do you think? Any other ideas about what to replace userIDs and passwords with on mobile?

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  1. Great idea there.

    Another method could be to use the IMEI / IMSI. This is unique to every phone, and saves the bottleneck of verification via sms.

    that way, the user does not even have to enter any parameters

  2. Using mobile numbers for authentication will be good but it will make it a little awkward to use same service with other networks (in Nigeria) and using IMEI/IMSI is also good but have the potential of tying the service with a particular phone or device.

    I think using either of these and having alternative of using password when they are not available will enhance the experience even further.

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