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10 Use Cases of Magic Link Authentication

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As technology evolves, so do the ways in which users authenticate themselves. Passwords, once the standard for user authentication, are increasingly being replaced by more convenient and secure methods – such as magic links! Magic links offer a simple and secure way for users to authenticate themselves without having to remember passwords or go through complex authentication processes. 

In this article, we'll explore ten use cases of magic links and explain how they can be used to improve user authentication and security.

Passwordless authentication

Passwords are often the weakest link in security, as they can be easily guessed or stolen. Passwordless authentication solves this problem by using different methods of authentication. One such method is the use of magic links, where a user clicks on a link sent to their email address to authenticate themselves.

Example of magic link authentication used by Medium
Example of magic link authentication used by Medium

Magic links for passwordless authentication can be used in a variety of scenarios, from logging in to an application to accessing secure resources.

Password reset

Password reset is a common process in which a user resets their password in case they forget it or suspect it has been compromised. Magic links can be used to reset a user's password, where the user clicks on a link in an email or SMS and is taken to a page where they can enter a new password. Password reset via magic links is more secure than knowledge-based password reset methods like security questions.

Time-sensitive transactions

Financial activity should always be safeguarded with robust authentication processes. However, strict authentication measures may take too long for time-sensitive transactions, such as bank transfers and online payments. By generating a magic link, users can quickly authenticate themselves to conduct the transaction without any additional friction.

One-time access

One-time access is a scenario where a user needs to access a resource only once, such as a shared document or an event invitation. In this case, magic links can be used for one-time access by generating a unique link that is only valid for a single use. This means that once the user clicks on the link and accesses the resource, the link becomes invalid and cannot be used again. 

Automatic session renewal

Magic links can be used for automatic session renewal by generating a new link each time the user needs to renew their session. This means that instead of requiring the user to manually log in again, a new magic link is automatically generated and sent to the user's email address, which they can simply click on to continue using the application or service.

The use of magic links for automatic session renewal provides a convenient and secure way of maintaining long sessions with an application or service, while also improving the user experience by eliminating the need for constant logins. It is an effective way of reducing user frustration and improving overall engagement.

Account delegation 

Magic links can be used for account delegation by allowing users to delegate access to their account to other users. This means that instead of having to share their login credentials, users can simply generate a magic link that allows another user or entity to access their account for a specified period of time or with specific permissions.

This use case is particularly useful for scenarios where users need to grant access to their account to others, such as when they are on vacation or when they need someone to perform a specific task on their behalf. By using magic links for account delegation, users can maintain control over their accounts while still providing access to others as needed.

Additionally, magic links for account delegation can also help improve security, as users can set specific permissions for the delegated user or service provider, limiting their access to only what is necessary. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access or accidental changes to the account.

Guest access

Similar to account delegation, users may need to grant temporary access to guests or external parties. For example, an organization may hire a consultant for a limited duration and need to provide them with temporary access to a resource or application. Granting the consultant access through a magic link provides a more secure and convenient alternative to creating temporary usernames and passwords.

Device authorization

Magic links can be used for device authorization by allowing users to authorize specific devices to access their account or resources. Instead of having to enter login credentials each time they access the resource from a different device, users can simply generate a magic link that authorizes the device to access the resource.

This use case is particularly useful for scenarios where users frequently access the same resource from multiple devices, such as a cloud-based storage service.

Reducing cart abandonment

Abandoned shopping carts can be a significant issue for e-commerce companies, with research showing that nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the purchase is completed. One of the reasons for this is that users may forget that they have items in their cart, or they may abandon the cart because they forgot their password, or they find the login process too tedious.

This is where magic links can be particularly useful. E-commerce companies can send promotional emails to users who have abandoned their carts, reminding them that they still have items in their cart waiting to be purchased. And instead of asking the user to enter their login details, the email could contain a magic link that, when clicked, would automatically log the user in and take them directly to their cart. This reduces the friction and makes it more likely that the user will complete the purchase.

In-store purchases

As retail becomes less dependent on cash and cards, consumers are starting to adopt new payment methods to complete transactions. In lieu of these payment methods, a vendor can instead send a magic link to a customer’s mobile phone, which they can click on to complete a transaction without having to enter personal or payment information. 

This eliminates the need for customers to carry cash or credit cards and reduces fraud by limiting the amount of personal and payment information that is exchanged between the customer and the store.

Bring the magic to life

If you're looking for a hassle-free way to implement magic link authentication for your app, Descope has got you covered. With our drag-and-drop workflows, you can easily create user-facing screens and magic link authentication flows. Plus, with our magic link APIs and SDKs, you can abstract away the complexity of authentication and spend more time building your core product.

Delight your users with one-click signup and login over email or SMS, and remove the need for passwords. Sign up for Descope today and see the magic in action!