MobMe to deploy its digital signature solution in closed beta by year-end

14 Nov, 2012

Mobile VAS provider, MobMe Wireless Solution, is partnering with a commercial lender in India to deploy its digital signature technology Mobile Express, according to a top executive of the Kerala-based company. The deployment will be completed by the end of December and the bank will go live with the full-fledged service by February next year.
"We are not in a position to disclose the name at this point," MobMe's co-CEO Sony Joy told "The deployment will be complete by the end of this year and we will be running a closed beta. The special mobile SIM card that offers the service will be available to the end customer only by February 2013."

Mobile Express is a digital signature that enables one to log into his/her online banking portal, social media account, mailbox and e-commerce websites with just his/her mobile number, avoiding the risk of the passwords and usernames being hacked and misused.

Joy said that MobMe is also in talks with leading telecom operators and certifying authorities in the country to implement Mobile Express. "We will be announcing a couple of them in the next 3-4 weeks."

The company is also expanding the service pan India within six months of the pilot. "We are in the discussion stage with many other lenders. Once the service goes live with the banker that we are partnering with, we will extend the service to all 85 banks in the country. We sense a big opportunity with the government sector as well, as many government services require mobile digital signature," said Joy.

What is Mobile Express

The solution is based on the concept of Wireless PKI technology. There is an application embedded onto the SIM card, which generates and stores the key pair of the digital signature. This special SIM card has a crypto processor that keeps the environment completely independent of the mobile handset.

"Basically, the SIM card acts as the secure element. All communication is happening over binary encrypted SMS that interacts only with the SIM. From a user perspective, all one needs is a 4-digit PIN to digitally sign anything. The PIN is stored only in the SIM card and is not moved into the Cloud, keeping it away from the reach of the bank, telecom operator, certifying authority or any entity connected to this," Joy explained.

The USP of this solution is that it is 100 per cent handset-supported and the internet connectivity is not required. The SIM acts as a hardware secure element.  When one enters the number into a computer, a signing request appears on the phone and a 4-digit PIN needs to be entered onto the mobile handset. The page reloads automatically in a secure mode.

This technology is particularly useful in healthcare, where a medical practitioner can sign prescriptions digitally and remotely besides citizen-oriented government services such as applying for passport, filing of birth certificates in hospitals, etc.

"Being able to do a fund transfer without having to remember passwords from the convenience of any mobile phone is what we conceive with this technology. Today, mobile banking is a subset of internet banking and this will change all that. A mobile handset will double up as the PoS machine capable of receiving payments," the MobMe co-CEO said.

Founded 2006 in Trivandrum Technopark by Sanjay Vijayakumar (CEO), Sony Joy and Vivek Steve Francis (COO), MobMe is a mobile, media and entertainment company that is focusing on VAS for mobile phone users and carrier grade solutions for network operators. MobMe's partners and clientele include Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, Idea, Tata Indicom, BSNL, MTNL, NDTV, Network 18 and Café Coffee Day.  The company also works with the state governments of Kerala, Goa, Nagaland and Central Government departments like the Department of Science and Technology.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)