Before Metaverse, let’s first figure out the digital and physical worlds

Aditya Vuchi
4 mins

Most of our lives today involve constant hopping between the digital and physical worlds. You place an order online (digital) and get goods delivered offline (physical). You pay online, you get services rendered in the physical world. This interaction of the physical and the digital world requires information and identities to be constantly exchanged between these worlds.

In the last two decades, the mobile number has emerged as the most popular tool that traverses these two worlds. It serves two major purposes:

  1. It acts as a person identifier since it is assumed that each person can be uniquely identified in a CRM system as a customer (primary key). This reduces fraud and ensures the customer database is reasonably clean for order management
  2. Using this ID, the service provider can communicate (chat/call) with the customer. This communication can be for order/service delivery and more recently (and rampantly) for marketing purposes.

To achieve this convenience and to have confidence in the accuracy, companies "verify" the phone number via an OTP before they rely on this ID for subsequent customer interactions.

Benefits of using a mobile number

Imagine if a company decides to generate its own ID (say a customer ID) and never takes your mobile number. This customer ID is only understood by their systems and not interoperable. This means a customer will end up with 10s of separate identities on the various portals they use. Furthermore, the company and the customer can only interact with each other if they are on a common platform (chatbot on their website or the company’s mobile app).

A mobile number eliminates the need for this proprietary format and allows a common ID that all systems understand.

In India, the 10-digit mobile number is that undisputed ID that all systems understand and process.

In fact, Flipkart and Swiggy only require a mobile number to start a new account with them (not even an email address is needed) As companies use different systems to run their business, the interoperable mobile number becomes infinitely more valuable. For example, an e-comm website relays the order to a logistics company to deliver. If the delivery personnel did not have the mobile number handy, they would struggle to deliver since they cannot reach the customer for directions, availability etc.

The perils of a mobile number

Since the mobile number is used both as a customer ID across many systems and the same 10 digits can be plugged into any phone to call you, it is open for a lot of abuse:

  • Brands use this ID to incessantly spam you via SMS or telemarketing calls
  • Platforms like Facebook allows users to be targeted based on the phone number
  • Delivery companies print this ID freely on packages making it publicly accessible for fraud
  • Physical register books from malls and restaurants are photo-copied and sold to marketing companies
  • Cyber-hacks of different datasets allow merging of profile information with other sensitive data like date of birth, addresses and IP data
  • Digitally-vulnerable customers open themselves up to SIM-jacking and phishing scams

As more of our lives get digitised, the mobile number has become a deadly weapon used for fraud, mental disturbance and general annoyance. 

Even completely digital products like edtech and online insurance mandate a mobile number during sign-up or when requesting price quotes.

This ensures they have an irrevocable way to reach out to the customers. Once a phone number is provided during a free registration, customers have no control on when and how they are contacted by the sales team looking to convert them to paid accounts. This makes them completely powerless.

While it's true that these aggressive sales tactics lead to long-term brand erosion due to pissed off users, companies that are under pressure from investors will prioritise immediate sales targets over long-term relationship building.

This feeling of consumer helplessness needs to be solved. The customer should take back control of their time and attention without depending on someone else (i.e brand or company) to "do the right thing".

How we’re solving this at Doosra

We at Doosra believe it is essential to have an alternative digital ID that can be given to people or companies based on the requirements and how much they can be trusted. We should be free to share our personal information with friends and family but have a separate set of info (phone, email etc.) to give for shopping, online sign-ups and store walk-ins. 

As an identity platform, we started tackling the most pressing issue of our times; the safety and security of citizens who are forced to give a mobile number by giving them an alternative; a Doosra number. This telecom-backed, 10-standard mobile number addresses the needs of companies who need a mobile number to efficiently deliver goods and services while giving control of the communication back to the customer.

With our filter-first approach, all calls are blocked by default but smart integrations and settings allow important calls, messages and OTPs to come through. So, companies will still get a mobile number they need and consumers get the peace of mind they should have always had. 

Doosra is the tool that helps restore balance to a system that is heavily rigged against consumer interests. You can sign-up for a Doosra number here.