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By Valid’s Mobile Global Team
2020 was a year of many changes for everyone. The pandemic created a need for more online solutions in order to bring some sort of normalcy to peoples’ lives – changing consumer habits forever. It might have also been the biggest accelerator so far for the long-waited digital transformation around the mobile ecosystem. Social distancing and isolation drove people to increasingly use mobile applications to solve their daily struggles as well as stay connected.
From mobile banking and mobile payment applications to digital identity and certification services, 2020 was the year to take advantage of connected devices to try to conduct as many daily activities as we could. The big tech companies alone are investing around 10 to 15 billion in R&D to bring new services and devices into the ecosystem, answering user demand for more convenience and security in a (post) pandemic-world.
How will these mobile services continue to evolve in 2021? What’s to come for the mobile industry?
Here are Valid’s 2021 Top Predictions for the Mobile and IoT Ecosystem:
- Connected devices will become a consumer’s main source of identity verification:
Identity fraud is still a big concern for consumers. Today, end-users are offered an authenticated entry-point inside their smartphones, which becomes a gateway for other affiliated services, leveraging captures on the phone (facial recognition, voice, fingerprints, etc.) and “identity claims” — shared between different service providers. Until today, this served as a gigantic CRM, with the purpose of collecting and profiling end users’ data and funding the prosperous Ad-Tech industry (advertising), with some capacity of “self-care” performed by the end-users for cost reduction purposes.
However, this is changing significantly, with the demand of consent collection (for GDPR or other compliances reasons) and applications such as “digital signature” (strong commitments), remote digital voting, etc. Device manufacturers have created such a trust and symbiosis with their end-customers that they cannot hold back; it is imperative they invest more in this field, not just for enhancing their CRM and Ad-Tech purposes, but to protect the very critical transactions in which their devices are involved in and their end-customers are performing thanks to their devices.
We do anticipate a new line of friction between these worldwide organizations (giant device manufacturers, BigTech’s) and geographical states. The traditional onboarding of consumers will depend on some sovereign issued identity documents; this is already the current best practice and a complementary approach. Nevertheless, the Big Tech’s have considerable advantages and capabilities to build those digital identities than the vast majority of states relying on paper-based birth certificates and dubious originals. The process to gain entry into these countries with those initiatives is already “aided” by their Internet footprints.
In a very short timeframe, the quality and reliability of digital identities created by device manufacturers will challenge the ones of the sovereign states, posing some basic and ethical issues for citizens and their governments. Device manufacturers will have to find the right answer and the right level of technology exposure; and of course negotiate with the states regarding their role and participation.
2. Big Tech companies will take an even deeper dive into the semiconductor industry:
Through years of consolidation, the semiconductor industry has become a highly concentrated sector where a limited number of players produce the main contributions that shape the evolution of the technology. As a reaction, global corporations such as Apple, Microsoft and Amazon will increase their investment in 2021 in order to accelerate the development of their own in-house silicon products. These companies acknowledge that the semiconductor market continued to consolidate at a rapid pace throughout 2020 and that chips are vital to the digital world.
Besides the integration of independent vendors on the offer side, the competitive forces on the demand side are also shaping this integration trend. While the Personal Computer era did not believe that chip features distinguishes beyond performance, the cloud era is already dominated by a few cloud providers that need differentiation and are searching for it by building their own silicon products.
Such backward integration is very well known among other big technology companies such as Samsung and Huawei. Although they are recognized by the consumers as major smartphone brands, these tech giants have their own semiconductor business, such as Samsung LSI and HiSilicon. In that regard, it is common that those companies supply main components for their competitors in the smartphone arena. On the other hand, traditional semiconductor vendors, such as Intel, are being urged to evaluate strategic alternatives that could address how to serve its competitors as customers.
At the same time, both traditional players and new entrants will need to find their best path for ensuring the supply chain, considering geopolitical factors and shortage issues that could affect agreements and commitments whose persistence cannot be taken for granted anymore.In any case, different players would need to pay attention not only to hardware design but also to firmware.
In that regard, Valid is well positioned to support the implementation of use cases related to identity credentials, strong authentication or mobile payment by leveraging Valid’s experience and expertise on secure software development.
3. 2021 might be the year Europe reclaims its own silicon technological supremacy to control its own future.
Such dependence on foreign chips and other products has come under the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the technology war between the US and China plan to impact the economic situation in many Europeans countries.
Faced with those new challenges, the development of a plan to re-launch the economy in Europe and the awareness that Europe is totally dependent on the two greatest technological powers: the US and China, 2021 might be the year the continent begins to move towards a new era of connected devices. As security concerns about relying on foreign chips used in Europeans cars, medical equipment, mobile phones and networks, environmental monitoring increases, some initiatives are already being discussed by the EU.
Germany, France, Spain and 10 other EU countries have now joined forces to invest in processors and semiconductor technologies for the next generation of connected devices. On December 2020, this coalition signed a €145 billion declaration to commit to working together in developing the next generation of trusted low-power embedded processors and advanced process technologies over the next 2-3 years. This is a major step to ensure Europe’s technology sovereignty and competitiveness.
Valid is already a key software technology partner for top silicon vendor players in Europe such as INFINEON. Valid is ready to be part of this strategic initiatives to support the European silicon industry players to help them embed secure software designed in Valid’s R&D center in Europe and provide secure architecture and industrial solutions for the multiple applications that these devices will need to support.