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In a recent webinar, Numeracle’s VP of Trust Solutions, Sarah Delphey, and Bandwidth’s Senior Manager of Messaging Traffic Assurance, Alyssia Summers, sat down with the MEF’s Ross Flynn to discuss the issue of spam and fraud in telecoms, asking “Should We Unite Voice and Messaging Identity?” and to explore actionable solutions. Here Sarah shares the key takeaways from the discussion.

Your phone rings, or a new message pops up. Before you answer or open it, you hesitate. Is this a call or text I want? Can I trust the sender is who they claim to be? This daily dilemma reflects how the relentless onslaught of spam and fraudulent communications is weakening trust in our phone calls and messaging platforms. Legitimate businesses struggle to connect with their customers, while consumers miss out on important information.

Voice and Messaging: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Surprisingly, the issues with voice calls and messaging have more in common than most people realize.  Both sides of the industry lament the lack of standards, cumbersome and redundant validation processes, and the difficulty of scaling solutions while maintaining security.

Those operating in only voice or only messaging often imagine that the other channel must be less chaotic or more secure. It is becoming increasingly apparent, however, that voice and messaging share many of the exact same challenges. Failure to address these challenges in both voice and messaging means a continued degradation of consumer trust, stifling reputable businesses and making it harder for everyone to connect in a meaningful way.

Good intentions aren’t enough in today’s communications chaos. Enterprises, carriers, analytics partners – we need to stop working in silos and start building a shared path to trust”

Alyssia Summers, Senior Manager of Messaging Traffic Assurance, Bandwidth

The Trust Deficit

To protect consumers, carriers and analytics companies have implemented strict, but often heavy-handed, rules and/or systems for analyzing and filtering calls and messages. For voice calls, this may mean blocking calls or labeling a call as potential “spam” or “scam” to the call recipient. For text messaging, this involves blocking messages. While approaches vary for voice and messaging, currently, there’s no single standard or centralized process for verifying, transmitting, and displaying the communicating party’s identity to the recipient in either channel, leaving room for both legitimate and fraudulent communications to be misclassified. This created a vicious cycle:

  • Businesses feel stifled: They spend time and money on outbound calling and messaging campaigns, only to have communications delayed, mislabelled or blocked anyway with great difficulty in understanding or correcting outcomes.
  • Consumers feel powerless: Consumers lack clarity about who is contacting them and how to control their preferences.

In navigating this balance, the challenge lies in creating a system that is both secure and flexible enough to accommodate the legitimate needs of businesses while giving consumers total control and transparency over their communication preferences. As I emphasise in the discussion, our choice is clear: continue battling symptoms or address the root cause with comprehensive, industry-wide verification.

Learning from Successes

The lower instances of fraud on highly reviewed channels such as short codes prove that KYC can reduce fraud, and the value provided to consumers from branded calls showing the name of a trusted brand proves the desire for identity. Both models still have drawbacks and room for improvement, but we should learn from these models in designing for the future. While short codes provide a basic level of trust by associating a number with a verified business, innovations in voice technology such as Rich Call Data (RCD) take this further. RCD protocols offer a framework to embed and transmit caller identity information into the call path such that a static business identity might be displayed to the call recipient on calls using more than one of the business’ outbound phone numbers. If RCD can be paired with a system of robust KYC and centralized oversight, verified caller identity transparency builds trust and helps consumers quickly distinguish legitimate calls. Just as the voice industry can learn from messaging’s successes and failures in launching and scaling campaign registration frameworks, the messaging industry can draw valuable lessons from these advancements and adapt similar trust-building solutions, leveraging a scalable KYC framework.

Consumers deserve clear indicators of who is contacting them via voice or messaging, along with granular opt-out tools that align with their preferences.  Increased collaboration and coordination with the FCC and other regulatory bodies is also crucial to set and enforce clear standards, reduce redundant validation efforts, and simplify processes for all. Ultimately, these advancements point to the need for a comprehensive identity verification system that spans both voice and messaging.

The Future: Combined Solutions

To regain public confidence, the communications industry must undergo a fundamental shift. We have a responsibility to move away from the outdated “trust then verify” mentality and towards a Zero Trust (“verify, then trust”) Architecture. Companies like Numeracle, utilizing Know Your Customer (KYC) principles, are helping to pave the way for secure initial verification of businesses, laying a solid foundation for trust. By recognizing the problem early and championing solutions, we have the opportunity to be on the front lines, pioneering a more trusted communication future.

Voice and messaging shouldn’t be treated as separate battlegrounds. The same businesses and other legal entities are communicating over both voice and messaging, and they should not be required to validate the same information multiple times. By prioritizing verified identity, consumer choice, and streamlined and scalable processes, we can create an ecosystem where businesses thrive, and consumers feel in control.

“Good intentions aren’t enough in today’s communications chaos. Enterprises, carriers, analytics partners – we need to stop working in silos and start building a shared path to trust.”– Alyssia Summers, Senior Manager of Messaging Traffic Assurance, Bandwidth

This isn’t a stalemate. By investing in a system that prioritizes trust, we invest in a future where businesses can feel confident in their calling and messaging identity, and consumers can engage knowing exactly who is on the other line.

Take Control with Numeracle

The current fragmented system and lack of comprehensive verification standards are precisely what Numeracle’s Entity Identity Management (EIM) platform addresses. A core component of EIM is Verified Identity. This solution establishes a chain of trust by going beyond registration, rigorously vetting business identities using Know Your Customer (KYC) principles. By confirming the identities of senders and registering those identities with carriers,  Numeracle’s Verified Identity drastically reduces the risk of calls being mislabeled as fraud and ultimately elevates consumer trust in business communications.

With this comprehensive approach, Numeracle paves the way towards a future where trust is restored, and legitimate businesses can thrive in a reliable communications environment. Contact us today to learn more.

Sarah Delphey

VP of Trust Solutions, Numeracle


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