Big Four Mobile Carriers to Unveil ‘ZenKey’ Tech to Rid Us of Passwords

AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint are collaborating on ZenKey, a new way to verify and authenticate who's using your mobile device.

Most people would agree, passwords are a hassle. Now, the heavyweights of the mobile communications world may have a solution. Dallas-headquartered AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint are moving to rid the industry of them through their collaboration on new technology, ZenKey.

A taskforce made up of the biggest U.S. mobile carriers will reveal more about ZenKey, a stand-alone authentication platform taking over what once was called Project Verify, on Oct. 22-24 at Mobile World Congress’ MWC Los Angeles event. The details also will be demonstrated Oct. 27-30 at Money 2020 in Las Vegas and development specifications will then be available to developers.

ZenKey is intended to connect mobile subscribers to service providers with easier and more secure registration, authentication, and transaction authorization. The jointly developed technology’s goal is to prevent criminals from taking over accounts via unauthorized access using stolen login credentials.

Passwords can be a pain point for people, and ZenKey is meant to make the login process easier. It’s also a source of lost revenue for service providers and an attack opportunity for criminals wanting to commit fraud.

The tech uses layers of authentication and authorization factors, such as unique network signals that verify not only who the user is, but also that it’s the user’s device.

“Businesses and developers understand the perils of our connected lives and are seeking out next generation security solutions to help protect customers,” Johannes Jaskolski, general manager of the Cross-Carrier Identity Joint Venture, said in a statement. “It is that collaboration with service providers that will allow us to continuously strengthen the ZenKey offering as we strive to provide effortless, enhanced trust to the digital economy and beyond.”

A taskforce spokesman told FierceWireless that, for now, ZenKey is a U.S.-only option because of the carriers that are developing it.

“ZenKey is different from other authentication solutions in that it is a network-based solution that uses an array of attributes, including data derived from carrier networks, that is not accessible to someone just because they have your user name and password,” the spokesman said in FierceWireless. “We have stronger authentication capabilities with network-based SIM authentication vs. technology built into the device itself.”

ZenKey adds additional protections for user

ZenKey will let app developers and service providers integrate the technology so providers can authenticate their customers more effectively and securely, using methods like biometric verification.

For instance, Los Angeles-based LiveXLive Media Inc., service provider to the carrier community for more than a decade, has been working hand-in-hand with members of the taskforce to optimize the mobile experience for its users.

“ZenKey allows us to collaborate once again to streamline the mobile user registration and subscription multi-factor process while enhancing the security and data privacy of consumers on our next generation streaming platform,” Robert Ellin, chairman and CEO of LiveXLive, said in a statement. 

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