Increasing trust and simplifying verification for voice, text, and data
Today, billions of people are connected across voice, text and data communication channels every single day. The speed and convenience of the internet and wireless alone is unparalleled compared to any point in human history. Yet despite the ubiquity of mobile devices and computers, formidable challenges remain, says Paul Eccles, director of business development for iconectiv.
Increasing robocalls and sophisticated financial scams amidst legitimate communications make it more difficult for businesses to efficiently reach and serve their consumers. Meanwhile, consumer trust is at risk—even for well-established brands.
Whether it is an illegal robocall or a spoofed text, everyone is impacted when trust is undermined. The domino effect starts when a consumer clicks on a link that appears to be a legitimate authority only to find out it is fraudulent. Then, they stop answering legitimate calls—or they ignore messages that are from an unexpected authentic source like an emergency responder—because they are unsure if it is a fraudster.
Legitimate businesses and government agencies take a hit on several levels, including customer and productivity loss, as staff spend added time rectifying these situations. Service providers pay the price, too, fielding customer complaints and potentially losing revenue from senders choosing another means of reaching their audience.
Banking scams and identity theft are two common forms of text message fraud. For example, scammers may send an SMS with a link asking to activate a credit card or track a package. That link may take users to a page asking them to input various kinds of personal information such as account or social security numbers. Or it may trick the user into downloading malicious apps that can be used to intercept messages or covertly collect personal data.
Now fraudsters are also eyeing the next generation of messaging—Rich Communications Services (RCS)—as the entry point to deceive consumers. Nearly 100 service providers worldwide have launched RCS, according to the GSMA, and more than 360 million people use it. As those numbers grow, so do opportunities for fraudsters.
Improved caller and sender verification leads to more informed decisions
When service providers receive a call, text message or RCS interaction from a business, they need a way to verify the sender’s identity to help protect their customers. For instance, if they determine that the caller ID information has been falsified to mispresent the identity of a business, they can block the call. This safeguard builds customer confidence in caller ID information and, in turn, makes them more likely to answer calls from unfamiliar numbers rather than letting them go into voicemail. Seems easy enough, but this represents a tremendous challenge for service providers: authenticating millions of businesses, and then verifying that incoming calls, messages, RCS data and interactions from chatbots are not from an imposter.
Recognising the far-reaching consequences of this growing threat, service providers and innovators have developed industry standards and intelligent sender verification solutions that streamline voice, SMS and RCS communications authenticity:
- Voice communications: Providing enhanced verification for voice communications will allow more calls to qualify as verified and more calls to be delivered, which is essential to getting them answered again and letting legitimate commercial callers get back to business. This also maximises the reach, effectiveness and ROI of legitimate businesses’ omni-channel marketing initiatives and outbound customer service programs. Further, providing number authentication across networks enables service providers to verify legitimate calls from businesses to consumers and avoid traffic from legitimate B2C call centres from being labeled as spam.
- SMS communications: Verification will help simplify and streamline the onboarding process of SMS and MMS sender addresses onto mobile networks that connect short codes, toll-free numbers, 10-digit long codes (10DLC) and alphanumeric names to applications and the campaigns they represent. This in turn would help service providers reduce the substantial revenue losses from greyroute traffic, maintain the integrity and performance of their mobile networks and ensure the delivery of commercial messages to subscribers via a legitimate path.
- Data communications: Verification is also critical to new communication channels, such as RCS, where application-to-person (A2P) text messages can be embedded with video carousels for browsing and buying products. This is rapidly emerging as a powerful new way for businesses to interact with customers. Through verification, businesses—specifically their chatbots—can be provided with a legitimate digital signature, including their logo, to safeguard against impersonators doing the same.
There is no doubt that digital communications have brought people closer while making it more convenient than ever to engage with businesses. Indeed, businesses around the globe have embraced digital transformation as a strategic imperative which includes engaging their customers and employees remotely and on various communications channels.
A unified platform that allows a business to be authenticated on whichever communication channel they happen to need in the moment can present a single lens to both service providers, the business, and their B2C communications partners. By diligently securing every channel with a unified verification process, service providers ensure that consumers and businesses communicate with confidence and at industry scale.
To do this, legitimate businesses and service providers need to simplify the verification process for voice, text and data communications. This requires the provision of a verified association between the business and the caller/sender ID being used when the originating service provider has not provided that telephone number to the business.
In other words, when the service provider sees a number that it doesn’t recognise, it can use this process to authenticate calls and texts. It is particularly valuable for businesses that use multiple service providers for voice because when the originating service provider sees a number that it has not assigned, it can use the iconectiv TruReach platform to authenticate calls from those businesses no matter what service provider they’re using.
It also gives content and application providers confidence that their rich business messages will be delivered through a trusted and legitimate path. Not only does it verify ownership of logos and service marks so they can be displayed to end users, but it provides a better experience for service provider customers by helping ensure the legitimacy of their business chatbot is recognised.
Putting trust back into communications takes collaboration and awareness across businesses, government agencies, service providers, innovators and consumers. These unprecedented crossroads of technology are a reminder that the payoff for re-instilling trust in communication is worth the effort—and one that will represent yet another milestone in the history of communications when achieved.
The author is Paul Eccles, director of business development for iconectiv.
About the author
Paul Eccles is the director of business development for iconectiv. As the authoritative partner of the communications industry for more than 30 years, iconectiv’s solutions enable the interconnection of networks, devices, and applications for more than two billion people every day.
In his current role, he leads the company’s international market development efforts focused on the expansion strategies for Trusted Communications. Eccles is an experienced senior executive in the technology and communications sectors, with more than 20 years of international market experience.
Previously he held EMEA sales leadership roles for organisations including Sandvine, Ericsson, BroadSoft and Ventraq, developing partnerships with some of the largest global telecommunications players on issues such as Cloud and Unified Communications, NFV/SDN, OSS/BSS, Network Intelligence, Analytics and Cyber Security.