This article originally ran on the LinkedIn page of Guillaume Bourcy.
What is an anchor? It can be lots of things. It can hold a boat in place or possibly your flat screen television. It’s a spot to get a nice lobster roll in Venice Beach. It can be Ron Burgundy.
Anchors are good!
They help protect you. Think of a skiff in a squall, a mooring in a monsoon! Anchors often save us from the harsh realities of the world around us.
At TeleSign we use anchors too! However, unlike the thousands of boats across the street from us, we use anchors in a bit of a metaphorical sense. We use a phone number as a trust anchor.
So why do we believe so strongly in phone verification versus something such as email? The easy answer is it helps prevent fraud. I myself have 4 email addresses. And while three of them are because I wanted to take the Pottermore Sorting Hat quiz again, at least one of them I could use for a bogus registration. They exist solely to collect spam. While I am not in the habit of defrauding various online entities, one could agree that if I wanted to create a free email in order to do this, it would take me no longer than 30 seconds.
Furthermore, I only check one, maybe two of my email addresses regularly. If JK Rowling is trying to contact me about the goings on of Slytherin, it is likely to fall on deaf ears. This is terrible for customer engagement.
Enter the phone number
I have one. I’ve had the same number since I arrived here in the US back in 2012. I check it all the time. I just checked it. (Someone liked one of my LinkedIn articles, yay!) And while some people may have the dreaded work phone, it’s a fair assessment that in developed markets most people are like me: one phone, check it a lot, celebrate when they get social media love.
With emerging markets although in the past people had multiple SIMs based on different local promotional offers, the trend seems to also go in favor of sticking to one carrier. In these markets, end-users are seeing the value of restricting their number of SIMS as it will unlock some benefits like access to -first and foremost- payment remittance and banking as well as many other added values such as education, voting and health care.
In this context it’s harder to fake a phone number. When you use phone verification at registration with your users, you know they are real. They are willing to give you something that matters to them, phone numbers important! Trust is, after all, a two-way street. By using phone numbers as trust anchors, you are not only verifying that there is an actual human being (as opposed to a robot/fraudster) on the other end, but also you are building a bridge of communication with your user.
Password forgotten? Here is a safe platform for 2FA. Insane 90% off flash sale? Text a notification! Gate change at the airport? Here’s a friendly update. If all of those went to my firstname.lastname@example.org I would never receive those communications.
Get on board with anchors. Get on board with trust. Trust anchors are super helpful and not only will they save you a lot of headaches in the realm of fraud, the customer engagement piece could even make you a couple bucks.
Click here to learn more about TeleSign and phone-based verification.
Guillaume Bourcy is the Global Sr. Director, Data and Solutions Strategy at TeleSign.