AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile go live with ZenKey for password simplification

ZenKey, a joint venture of AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, is live this week on the first of several major apps and websites – all designed to make it easier for consumers to sign into apps and websites without having to remember passwords or flip through stacks of sticky notes.

The initiative generated a lot of press last year, back when trade shows were live events and the industry gathered for MWC Los Angeles in October. That’s when the carriers – that included Sprint, of course – presented their collective way of providing secure registration, authentication and transaction authorization.

The solution is now live on the mobile apps for LiveXLive, a global platform for music, comedy and pop culture content, and Verizon My Fios. But initially, the rollout is mostly dominated by AT&T, with a live version on websites for AT&T TV, DirecTV, myAT&T, AT&T TV Now and “Currently, from AT&T.”

RELATED: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint rally behind ZenKey for authentication

According to the carriers, ZenKey is easy to use. A wireless customer downloads the free ZenKey app from Google Play or the Apple App Store. The solution is designed to provide secure registration, authentication and transaction confirmation, as well as fraud prevention services. A video of how it works is available here.

ZenKey also is collaborating with the likes of IBM and ForgeRock. IBM is using ZenKey to expand employee and consumer authentication options for its IBM Security Verify portfolio. ForgeRock has integrated ZenKey into its identify platform, meaning its clients will be able to select ZenKey for consumer transactions and employee sign-on.

ZenKey works on mobile devices, as well as a consumer’s laptops and tablets that are linked with the ZenKey app.

"We are extremely excited about the launch of ZenKey on these apps and websites. We believe this initiative illustrates the commitment that ZenKey and the founding members have for cybersecurity and identity," said Johannes Jaskolski, ZenKey general manager, in a statement. "We look forward to activating additional marquee brands while giving consumers added peace-of-mind with their mobile transactions."

Consumer awareness & trust

ZenKey is a good concept to protect the consumer, said William Ho, principal analyst at 556 Ventures, noting that at the heart of the matter is the need to download an app to enable all of this. 

“There are good optics, for sure, when the big three are behind this, but it’ll come down to consumer awareness and trust,” he told FierceWireless. “A good indication is how much effort the carrier community drives the adoption messaging and how many other trusted brands get on board with ZenKey.”

There are parallels in the banking segment, he said. For example, Zelle was created and backed by major bank brands as a trusted alternative to Venmo, and both exist alongside other competitors.