Gigya’s customer identity management platform helps businesses build better relationships with consumers, turning unknown site visitors into known and engaged customers. With one eye firmly on the future, the firm has compiled a list of the top trends that will impact the online-identity space in the near future.

Here, in reverse order, are Gigya’s top ten predictions for online identity with additional context provided by the firm’s Chief Marketing Officer Dave Scott: 

10. Identity Will Become Central to the Internet of Things

The number of connected devices is expected to grow to more than 25 billion by 2020, and as consumers take on more and more smart gadgets, they will look to brands to enhance connectivity and improve user experiences. Central identity between devices will take the Internet of Things to a whole new level. From personal preferences to health profiles, connected identity will enable devices to create a personalised lifestyle for consumers. “If you’re thermostat is connected then the next logical step is that it knows what temperature you like the room to be at,” says Scott.

9. Consumers Will Demand Control Over Their Identity Data

Leaks and security concerns are making people increasingly wary of how businesses store and use their data. However, a 2014 Gigya survey found that while over 80 percent of consumers have abandoned online registration because they didn’t want to share the data that was being asked for, 45 percent are willing to share that information if it is made clear how it will be used. Scott says businesses must let customers know upfront what data they want to collect, explaining how it will be used and allowing them to easily opt in and out. “Consumers will start to take back their identities and now it’s possible, where with cookie data, it wasn’t,” he adds.

8. Identity 3.0 Will Take Hold

Third-party identity across the web has moved from basic username and password, to a second generation of social identity relying on platforms like Facebook to support personalised user experiences. Identity 3.0 goes beyond social identity to provide increased connectivity and security – consumers leverage payment providers like PayPal to verify their identities and streamline checkout across eCommerce properties; Twitter Digits allows users to authenticate using their phone numbers; ApplePay’s Touch ID uses biometrics to identify shoppers at the POS. “Identity 3.0 will involve biometrics,” says Scott. “The iPhone already has thumbprint recognition, but there’s retina and face recognition too”.

7. Customer Identity Will Become Integral to the Success of Marketing

As consumers create more and more data across a range of destinations and devices, consumer-facing businesses will need to reconstruct the way they collect and manage customer identities. Marketing and IT will have to work together to put a comprehensive external identity management strategy in place; currently only 24% of businesses claim to have a single view of their customers across channels, according to a 2014 Experian survey. “Identity will really start to be used by marketers,” Scott explains. “They’ve customised messages with first names for a long time, now they can actually start to understand the customer’s preferences to help targeting.”

 6. Yahoo’s Presence as an IdP Will Disappear

Once a serious player in the identity space, Yahoo’s importance as provider of social logins will continue to decline as networks like Facebook and Google+ squeeze it out of the IdP game. Yahoo would need to find a way to increase the value of users’ Yahoo identities to rebuild its place as a third-party IdP (Identity Provider), something it is unlikely to do despite barring Facebook and Google+ login across its properties. Scott says Yahoo used to provide a “decent amount” of identity data. “It was Facebook, LinkedIn and Yahoo.” But he says this dropped from 18 percent to 6 percent % between 2013 and 2014. “We think it will fall to almost zero in 2015”.

5. Facebook Will Maintain Its Majority Position as an IdP

Even with fierce competition in social login, the world’s largest social network has held its position as the biggest IdP across devices, industries and locations. Facebook actually gained ground  following the addition of new consumer data controls that had a positive impact on consumer perception of the social network as an IdP. “This is a no brainer,” says Scott. “FaceBook will continue to be dominant in the identity space. Certain demographics may be migrating from Facebook, but the new services they are using are not really a feature in social login yet.”

4. First-Party Identity Data Will Continue to Replace Third-Party Cookie Data

There are two problems with third-party cookie data. First, ‘cookie-ing’ users without and tracking them across the internet without their knowledge, is a violation of consumer privacy. Second, third-party cookies only provide a slice of device-specific browser history that doesn’t necessarily belong to a known user. As customer demand for privacy and personalisation grows, so will the adoption of identity data to construct a permission-based, omni-channel view of customers. “Third-party cookie data has come to be seen as unreliable and it is also becoming more and more heavily regulated. Identify data will replace it,” says Scott.

3. Regional Regulations About Consumer Data Will Increase

As consumer identity becomes increasingly important to how businesses “know the customer”, identity data regulation is continuing to tighten, forcing international businesses to re-think how they store and use international customer data. Countries from Germany to Brazil are tightening up laws around international data storage and the use of local data centres. Even Russia has rolled out a local storage mandate. “Regulation will continue to increase around customer data,” explains Scott. “ID data bypasses this because no one is buying and selling it, it’s permission to use not permission to store.”

2. Payment Providers Will Become Mainstream IdPs on Mobile Devices

Worldwide mobile commerce sales will account for nearly half of total web sales by 2018 and with more than 60 percent of consumers likely to choose social over traditional registration when using mobile devices. Simplifying the purchasing process will drive a spike in share of social logins for payment providers like PayPal, Amazon and Google. Scott says these players already support sensitive payment data. “I’ve heard Amazon described as the world’s largest marketing company.They will get into the identity space.”

1. Apple Will Become an Identity Provider

The 2014 introduction of Apple Pay marked Apple’s first foray into identity and 2015 will be the year that business stakes its claim as a true third-party consumer IdP. With more than 200 million credit cards on file, established relationships with financial institutions, knowledge of users’ on-device behaviours, and insight into app downloads and usage, Apple can provide millions of customers with unprecedented convenience as they move across the web. “Apple will become a player in the identity space,” says Scott. “They have the commerce part, they have the biometric part. It’s not a huge leap to imagine using your iTunes account to log in to Forbes or Netflix.”

Summarising Gigya’s predictions, Scott says, “Convergence, social, biometrics, ecommerce, Internet of Things – they’re all ways to try to serve the customer better and 2015 will be the year it all comes together.”