First name, last name, user name, gender, email address, home address, password…and once again please…your password.
Seriously? We live in a society where your fridge can play you music and you can track your dog's physical activity and yet most haven't figured out how to make filling in a form on your mobile a simple task. And while registration forms aren't the sexiest part of our mobile life, they're incessantly common.
Unless you have tiny, ultra-dexterous digits and endless patience, mobile forms are awful. Frankly they're one of the major things keeping people on desktop devices.
It's cliche to say it, but it's true. We've all gone mobile. 45% of us prefer to browse the web on the phone rather than doing it on a desktop or laptop. Most likely, 90% of what you used to do on the desktop you now do on the phone. Email, banking, social media updates, news alerts, and even (if you're fancy-free) looking for your next fling.
For those of us with normal-sized thumbs (or a lack of patience), we need a form that is easier to complete on a phone.
All They Need is Your Number
Fortunately, as the more practical service providers out there have realised, it's quite possible for you to give them all the information they need simply by entering your phone number. (They can always ask you for more details later when it's more convenient.)
Not only is this a very quick way of registering, it's also very secure. Nearly all online providers are working to stop fraudsters from registering for thousands of fake accounts. These fake accounts exist to interact with genuine users and infect them with malware, and to spam or phish for their financial information.
While email addresses and user names tell a provider very little about the person behind the registration, a phone number can tell whether a user is potentially dangerous in a fraction of the time among other things.
Safety at High Speed
When your service provider asks for your phone number, two things can happen.
First, they can check out your number to find out what type of phone it is, and whether it's associated with possible cybercrime behavior patterns. This front-line defence eliminates a chunk of spammers and fraudsters before they even get on the service, making it a more trustworthy and safe experience for all users.
What providers are looking for is not information about you personally but details connected specifically with your phone number. Certain types of numbers, like pre-paid or VoIP numbers, are a favorite with fraudsters because they're anonymous, don't involve verifying with any personal information, and can be obtained very cheaply. Criminals tend to look for the easiest, cheapest methods – and thus these are very attractive to anyone looking to open accounts to spam as many people as possible.
Secondly, with authorization, providers can establish you as a trusted user by sending you a verification code by SMS or a voice call to the phone number you provided. It takes just a few seconds to receive and enter, and proves that you're a genuine user (and a real human being).
It also enables providers to authenticate you at any time during the life of your account. Any time you need to change your password, or if you get a new device, they can simply ask you to authenticate yourself, using the same phone number to send you an authentication code.
This way, if your password was ever stolen, a fraudster would not only need to get your number, but also be in physical possession of your actual phone. This significantly lowers the likelihood of someone getting into your account.
That's the Long and the Short of It
So you've tapped in your phone number, entered the verification code, and now all that remains to create your account is to fill in your name, and you're done.
It's a much faster process. In fact, it's been estimated that it takes just a third of the time it would normally take you to complete a desktop-style registration form. A little over 12 seconds, compared to the 36 seconds it takes to fill out a long form.
If you want to add more information, as we said, you can always do this later, and customize your account when you have more time.
For now, you're signed up in a faster and more secure way. Thanks to simple phone number verification, companies are able to get genuine users in more quickly and slam the door in the face of the bad guys. If your number checks out, then welcome aboard. If not? Well, we've got your number.