A U.S. Patent for Phone Verification Done the Nexmo Way

Published January 25, 2017 by Srivatsan Srinivasan

Vonage has been issued a U.S. patent (Pat. No. 9,516,480) for Verify, the Nexmo phone number verification API, thanks to the innovative, conversion-focused solution it offers customers. Yes, Verify enables reliable user authentication — sending a PIN code to a prospective registrant who then enters the PIN into an app or web service — but that alone would not be worthy of a patent. What has earned Verify’s inventors that prestigious distinction is the unique approach they developed to maximize user conversion when the initial verification attempt fails.

The concept was developed by Paul Cook (Chief Architect, Nexmo), Enrico Musuruana (Java Team Lead, Nexmo), Eric Nadalin (SVP of Technology Strategy and Architecture, Vonage), and Thomas Soulez (VP of Product Management, Nexmo), whom the patent names as inventors.

As Figure 1 from the patent documentation illustrates (see below), Verify employs a number of technologies to not only verify the phone number on a verification request, but also to dynamically execute optimized retries upon a failed authentication attempt.

identity verification, phone number verification

Figure 1. Example system for identity and phone number verification

Figure 2 shows a data flow diagram of Verify’s inner workings (see below). The first authentication attempt may be a PIN code sent via SMS to a user’s device. However, if the authentication fails — e.g. the user doesn’t enter the provided PIN within a specified time window — Verify’s intelligent failover can optimize and deploy subsequent attempts to enhance the opportunity for delivery and conversion.

identity verification, phone number verification

Figure 2. Data flow diagram of example identity and phone number verification

When a verification request comes in, Verify first validates the phone number. Any numbers that aren’t valid for authentication, such as VoIP, toll-free, and premium numbers, are rejected. For valid numbers, Verify generates PIN codes with expiration limits and determines the proper format for the location where they will be delivered, ensuring regional compliance of such details as sender ID and language. Finally, Verify selects the optimal delivery channel and failover sequences — that’s where Adaptive Routing and a wealth of conversion performance data come in.

In one authentication scenario, the primary channel for the first attempt may be an SMS text message, followed by another SMS when the PIN code in the first expires prior to conversion. Should the second attempt also fail, the third may be delivered as a voice (or text-to-speech) message. In another scenario, Verify may select a different primary channel and sequence to enable fast delivery and intelligent failover. Figure 3 depicts how Verify works at a high level.

phone number verification, Nexmo Verify

Figure 3. How Verify works

Driving the Verify solution’s performance are Nexmo’s direct-to-carrier connections, patented Adaptive Routing technology for high-quality message delivery, and experience. Nexmo has verified billions of phone numbers around the globe. As a result, Verify delivers improved customer acquisition, enhanced security, and lower, predictable costs to customers.

A Record Year for Patents at Vonage

The Verify patent was the second for Nexmo technology in as many months, following on the Adaptive Routing patent granted in December 2016. The two are among 13 new patents recently granted to Vonage by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In 2016, Vonage was issued 40 patents, a new record for the company. In total, Vonage owned 146 U.S. patents as of December 31, 2016, with nearly 200 U.S. patent applications pending.

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