Phone number based identity verification service

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I think we need to be careful when deciding which entities we want to represent our identity online (whether that's email, Facebook, SSN or now phone number). The Times did a piece last year titled "A 10-Digit Key Code to Your Private Life: Your Cellphone Number" and for better or worse, I agree, our phone number is becoming incredibly intimate.
@kleinkleinklein This is a great point and is absolutely something we think a lot about. There are other personal identifiers that have much more favorable properties that we intend on supporting in the future to further improve consumer and business security. This is our first step towards trying to kill "knowledge-based authentication"
This seems to have really critical uses for conversion rate. From a marketing perspective, it kills conversion rate to have users go through so many questions, but this goes in phases. I haven't seen anything like this. Is conversion rate optimization one of the main use cases?
@jesserank Thanks for the question, Jesse. Increasing conversion rates is a large benefit of using Cognito. This opens up the number of businesses who can use identity verification by a large margin because many companies collect name and phone number but relatively fewer companies collect SSN and date of birth as well. Increased security while improving conversion rates.
This is huge.
@chrismessina This looks more like users will have one Cognito account, and use it to log in to lots of apps. At least, that's what my goal would be. Will be able to persist the account across new phone numbers etc. Edit: Wow. After reading more on the site, this is really cool.
@chrismessina Thanks for posting us, Chris! We're not actually a TFA competitor - we're competing against those services that verify your real-world identity for anti-fraud and "Know Your Customer" regulations. Instead of providing your name, date of birth, address and SSN when signing up for a service, we link name and phone number to someone's real-world identity allowing businesses to just collect name and phone number instead. This provides huge security benefits to consumers and businesses ( This is also a much more secure alternative to those questions you may have been asked before when opening a new credit card like "what color is your 2001 Toyota Corola?" or "where did you live in December 1998?"
@alain explain to me how you do the real-world identity linking? Do you send a postcard? Or I'm confused by what you mean by "real world identity".
@chrismessina We connect the databases that exist today with hundreds of millions of americans for the purpose of verifying your identity when you sign up for a credit card, a loan, a bank account, etc and connect it to someone's phone number automatically. This allows a business to use our APIs to go from customer phone number -> their name, date of birth, address and SSN. Does that make more sense?
Stop it with phone numbers already. Email is a much better identification and is free. Phones numbers change and see the mess that WhatsApp is in due to using phone numbers. If you do not use WhatsApp for 45 days you account is deleted as they think your number was recycled.
@androidlove we agree that emails are a wonderful identifier, they just can't yet be linked on a mass-scale to deep identity information. Phone numbers, however, can be linked to your identity. We're not suggesting phone numbers as a two-factor authentication method - we are suggesting them as an alternative to knowledge-based authentication ( Right now people can log into darknet markets and buy thousands of stolen identities. Cognito blocks those kinds of identity fraud for your business because a user has to verify possession of a phone first. *That's* what we're replacing. Our customers are companies like financial institutions who at the moment basically accept that your SSN is your SSN on faith (because all of the data used to authenticate you has been leaked online). Wouldn't you rather receive an SMS one-time pin when your SSN is being used to sign up for a service rather than it being silently used for identity fraud?