Twitter’s Digits Ditches Passwords

Twitter’s newest app development tool, Digits, allows app users to sign in with just a phone number, making it much easier for mobile marketers to appeal to a global audience.

Digits allows users to log in to an app with just a phone number rather than an email address and password. On Wednesday, Twitter rolled out Digits in 216 countries and 28 languages, which include many developing markets, such as India and South America, where many mobile users have access to smartphones but don’t have email addresses.

By changing the way users connect to apps, Twitter has unlocked a world of possibility for marketers, according to Ludo Goarin, director of engineering at mobile development company Merkle 5th Finger. “Asking all users to register using an email address generates too much friction,” says Goarin. “Digits allows global brands to start thinking about how they can create a relationship with users in [developing markets] without having to consider engineering around registration and authentication.”

Goarin says phone number registration may not be the right idea for high-security apps like banks and insurance companies, but that “fast-moving companies who can grab the opportunity and take more risks to generate growth in untapped markets” will see their mobile business thrive overseas with the adoption of Digits.

McDonald’s is one of the companies rushing to adopt Digits into its mobile strategy. The company recently incorporated Digits into its Alarm App, which allows friends to share offers for food and beverages.

McDonald’s felt that users might find social sign-ins too intrusive, and that email and passwords created too much friction. Digits enables seamless authentication for users unwilling or unable to provide more information.

Digits is part of a bundle of Twitter app development tools, collectively called Fabric. The kit also includes MoPub, which integrates ads into mobile apps, and Crashlytics, a tool for testing stress points in apps to prevent crashes.

As Twitter expands its tools to appeal to developers and marketers alike, Goarin expects to see the company take on a more prominent role in the mobile marketing space. “With [Fabric], Twitter is positioning itself as a core player in the mobile apps ecosystem to enable faster growth globally for the industry.”

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