4 September 2020

Why Phone Number Verification is Crucial for Account Security

Security is a top reason as to why app developers are turning to phone number verification to authenticate users. This article explains.

A big concern for app developers is account security; how to verify that users are genuine human beings and not scammers or hackers. Email verification is sometimes chosen to prove ownership of a new account, but this method now has too many security vulnerabilities to use with confidence.

Why? It’s all too easy for fraudsters to set up a fake email account in someone else’s name in a bid to steal their identity. At the same time, automated bots can easily create fake profiles to exploit apps that rely on email verification alone.

As a result, many developers are following in the footsteps of the world’s leading tech giants, like Google and Facebook, which use phone number verification to authenticate users.

Phone number verification – how it works

Typically, a time-sensitive numerical code is sent to the end user’s phone at the point of account signup via an SMS message. The user simply inputs the code back into the app to verify their identity. Phone number verification works with landlines, as well as mobile phones. In the case of a landline number, the user listens to an automated voice stating the code.

Phone number verification offers a much stronger level of security than email verification. Reason being, each phone number is totally unique and assigned to a particular user. What’s more, to get a phone number, some effort is required in the way of obtaining a SIM card and an account with a telecoms provider. Stealing someone’s phone number is much more complicated than stealing their email address, and this is offputting for scammers. 

Benefits for developers

As an app developer, using phone number verification for security is an absolute must. You can be sure that genuine users are using your app, and you won’t have to spend precious time and resources dealing with fake bot accounts. It also reduces the risk of user accounts being hacked into or stolen. Aside from the above, number verification also offers the following benefits:

  • Boosts productivity as you can avoid the many ‘lost password’ requests that go hand in hand with email verification.
  • Allows you to effectively reach more users than ever before since there are now 4.78 billion mobile phone users worldwide.
  • Ensures your verification message gets seen and actioned instantly – SMS messages, for instance, reportedly have a 98% open rate.
  • Can reduce your verification costs if you opt to use WhatsApp instead of SMS – this is something you can do with VerifyKit.

Benefits for end-users

Password logins can be easy to hack, as many people choose predictable or memorable words during password creation. The need for a password login is removed with phone number verification.

With phone number verification, users can be confident that their account is completely secure. A high level of account security is paramount if users are required to submit sensitive data such as credit card details (for example, for in-app purchases or recurring subscriptions). Other benefits of phone number verification for users include:

  • Faster login – users can entirely avoid the step of inputting their email address and creating a password.
  • Messaging apps are familiar for users and extremely convenient to use, which helps for a smoother signup and login process; this ultimately reduces the number of uninstalls.
  • Can make user authorisations easier and quicker – phone number verification can be used to confirm service upgrades or downgrades, or account transactions.

Implementing phone number verification for better app security

Account security is an essential consideration for both app developers and end-users. Phone number verification is an excellent way to reduce the risk of account hacking and fake bot profiles, and in turn, this helps to improve user confidence and overall satisfaction. It also reduces the risk of security-related complaints and legal problems.

As well as offering increased security, number verification provides many other benefits for developers and users, including no more ‘lost password’ requests and a much smoother experience all around from the user’s point of view.

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