Carsten Ahrens: “Securing Identities is the Key to Success in the Digital Economy“

27th February 2018

Carsten Ahrens: “Securing Identities is the Key to Success in the Digital Economy“

Interview with Carsten Ahrens, CEO of Giesecke+Devrient Mobile Security, about opportunities in the management of digital identities, convergence of digital solutions and the tremendous potential of living in the smart city and smart home scenarios enabled by the IoT.

Q: For those unfamiliar with the work of G+D, what direction is your company now looking to focus on?

A: The focus areas for G+D as a group are Intelligent Automation, Cyber Security and Digital Transformation. G+D Mobile Security as one of the group’s companies plays a key role here. For us at G+D Mobile Security, it is all about managing digital identities.

Today, we manage about 2.9 billion SIM cards and more than 1 billion mobile devices, and we have issued billions of payment, authentication and transit cards. Physical cards as the carrier of a digital identity will remain an important market for the foreseeable future, but they are increasingly complemented or evolve to a purely digital, embedded version such as an eSIM or a tokenized payment card in mobile payment scenarios. In the few months since the commercial launches of the first eSIM enabled consumer devices (e.g. the Apple Watch, the Google Pixel phone or tablets), more than 2 million eSIM profiles on this kind of consumer devices have been activated and managed through our systems, and the number is growing each day.

Another market we are focusing on is the automotive industry, where we already hold a strong position in telematics and in securing connected cars. The majority of the global car manufacturers work with us.

Experts predict that the number of connected devices will almost double from 15 billion in 2015 to 28 billion in 2021. We believe that without a digital identity for each and every one of those connected devices it will be impossible to manage and secure the IoT. G+D Mobile Security manages all kinds of digital identities from start to end and ensures that it is secure and protected throughout its entire life cycle.

What opportunities do you see for the management of identities?

We believe that the opportunities are almost endless: basically, a digital identity is the key to transparency and trust in the connected world, and trust is the hard currency of the future. Without trust in the legitimacy of an identity or a transaction or the protection and integrity of data, there is no sustainable business. Without a digital identity that can be tracked and securely managed from its creation to its discontinuation, there can be no transparency and therefore no trust. Many new business models rely on data analytics, but any result of such an analysis is worthless or can even be harmful, if the data it is based on or its origin is corrupt, unverifiable or has been tampered with.

Convergence is a fact. The MWC is the best example. What used to be an industry event for telecommunication providers has since then been evolving to be a main event for almost all our customers

You work in a range of industries such as MNOs, banks, enterprises and automotive. Are we / will we see a convergence of digital solutions for each of their needs?

Convergence is a fact, we have seen it happen over the last few years. For me, the best example is Mobile World Congress: what used to be an industry event for telecommunication providers up until only ten years ago has since then been evolving to be our main event of the year where we can meet almost all our customers: telco, banking, OEM, enterprise, cyber security, automotive, most recently even production and manufacturing. It all started when payment, ticketing, transit and other services and applications became available on mobile devices such as smart phones and wearables. The next wave of convergence came with the Internet of Things and connected cars: mobile technology now connects all kinds of devices and machines, opening them up to new digital services and business models. The fridge that automatically orders new supplies is a reality, and the car that pays your bill at the gas or e‐charging station without any personal interaction at the cash register is on the horizon. These are two examples of applications, but the same principle applies to machine‐to‐machine interaction in production and manufacturing, or smart city scenarios where connected street lamps, public dustbins or traffic systems can enable municipalities to provide better and more targeted services to their citizens.

What’s hot and trending on the MWC?

This year’s motto of the MWC is “Creating a better future”. I would expect that we will be seeing ever more sophisticated solutions to improve the lives of citizens and consumers and the interaction between different parts of societies and the economy, as well as technologies and devices that enable these solutions. Our own presentation at MWC fits perfectly into this: “we protect what matters to you”.

Security of values and assets is at the core of any prosperous group or business. In a digital economy, a connected world, values and assets that need to be secured are digital identities, be it that of a device, a bank account, credit card, a mobile service, ticket, loyalty card, even that of an application or a file in digital rights management, you name it. Securing values is the essence of our brand. Come visit us at our booth in hall 7, booth 7A41 and see for yourself!

Profile: Carsten Ahrens

Ahrens has a degree in electrical engineering and more than 25 years of experience in various management positions in national and international telecommunications and IT companies, e.g. as CTO of Funkwerk AG and as CEO of the German subsidiary of telecommunications equipment supplier Ericsson. He joined Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) in 2013 and was appointed as CEO of its G+D Mobile Security business division in 2017.

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