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In this webinar our speakers Catalin Badea from netnumberAllister Fraser from EEKevin Britt from British TelecomMichael Becker from MEF and Identity Praxis, Inc, engage in a broad discussion on how mobile operators, especially in the U.K., have released carrier APIs. Enterprises, through mobile service providers like netnumber, access mobile phone numbers and mobile subscriber insights via these APIs. They use these insights to help strategically and tactically optimize experiences across the customer journey, combat fraud and cybercrime, streamline operations, and augment their regulatory compliance efforts.

We kicked off the webinar by exploring a high-level overview of the mobile ecosystem and where mobile operator APIs fit into the overall story.

As illustrated below, there are five central groups of players in the mobile ecosystem:

  • Mobile Subscribes, both people and their things (i.e., IoT devices).
  • Mobile Operators, the providers of telecom infrastructure and services.
  • Businesses/Organizations, commercial, non-profit, as well as other legally formed entities.
  • Governments and NGOs, the civic agencies that help set policy, legislation, and regulation, as well as other non-government entities that work on self-regulatory efforts, including the framing of governance models, policy, standards, protocols, and more.
  • Mobile Ecosystem Providers (MESP), a type of business/organization that specializes in offering solutions (products and services) to help optimize the value derived from the mobile ecosystem.

Figure 1: The Mobile Ecosystem API Value System

In the webinar, Catalin builds off of the general ecosystem discussed above and shares with us the netnumber value system and the various connections it opens up, via its services, to the mobile ecosystem and enterprise alike.

Mobile Network Operator APIs

Mobile operator APIs (application interfaces) are asynchronous windows into mobile networks. By looking through these windows, players throughout the mobile ecosystem derive insights from mobile phone number and mobile subscriber data.

First off, before we dig too much deeper, let’s address one critical point. According to Allister and Kevin, the carriers are not directly “sharing” mobile subscriber or mobile number data via the APIs. The carriers expend significant effort to ensure that the privacy and security of their subscribers are handled responsibly and with care. They are ensuring that their actions and services (like the offering of these APIs) are in compliance with leading regulations (e.g., GDPR, CCPA), their own privacy policies, and customer and market expectations. Rather than sharing specific data points, they are sharing scores and insights derived from the data.

Example Carrier APIs and Use Cases

So, if the carriers are not actually sharing mobile subscriber and mobile phone number data through the APIs, what are the carrier APIs and what do the APIs actually do?

Allaister shares that EE currently offers 12 standardized APIs, and this APIs have been built in collaboration with other mobile operators and EE customers. The other U.K. mobile operators have similar APIs.

EE’s APIs include a:

Our speakers take great care to note that the APIs and use cases discussed in this webinar are not an end state but rather just the beginning. Carrier data can be combined, refined, and used in a wide variety of ways.

  • Network Identity
  • SIM Change
  • Call Divert
  • Account Takeover
  • KYC Match
  • Number Verify
  • Age Eligibility
  • Number Recycle
  • IMEI Lookup
  • Home Network
  • Tenure
  • Scam Signals
Catalin explains that while the APIs for each carrier are similar in intent and structure, they are not the same technically or commercially. Managing direct connections to the carriers and providing enterprises with a single point of contact to gain cross-carrier insights is just one of the many value adds that a mobile service provider, like netnumber, gives to the market.

You can watch the webinar to hear how enterprises—bands, brands, retailers, hospitality, and more—are leveraging insights, under a legitimate or consent basis, in a privacy-preserving way, via the carrier APIs. They are using this insights to enhance the customer journey, combat fraud, streamline operations, and comply with regulations. Some of the key use cases of these APIs (standalone or in combination) include the near if not real-time signally of someone potentially being socially engineered, the risk that a number is being used for a fraudulent transaction, confirmation that a number is still valid for on-going marketing and support communications, KYC and age verification compliance, and more.

Our speakers take great care to note that the APIs and use cases discussed in this webinar are not an end state but rather just the beginning. Carrier data can be combined, refined, and used in a wide variety of ways. But to address pressing problems or realize new opportunities, the carriers and players like netnumber need to hear from the industry directly; they need to hear what problems and opportunities industry players are facing, and then together, they can work to create new APIs, and new signals, to secure customer experiences and peoples’ lives.

To learn more about carrier APIs, be sure to subscribe to the netnumber blog and review the EE API product documentation.

Michael Becker

MEF PD&I Working Group Chairman – Founder, CEO, Identity Praxis