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THE IDENTITY CHALLENGE: HOW CAN BANKS KNOW WHO’S WHO?

By Ian Holmes, Global Lead for Enterprise Fraud Solutions at SAS

 

Technology has transformed the world of banking, bringing all manner of new services to the table and revolutionising the way that customers manage their finances. Gone are the days of fixed branches and localised appointments. Today’s banking is done with the click of a button. However, technology has also brought with it new challenges, particularly in regard to identity and authentication. These two things are no longer as easy to achieve as they used to be.

Customers can interact with banks through a growing number of channels. As a result, there are myriad factors that banks need to take into account to facilitate the different options. The question of when and how to authenticate identity has become particularly important, as has the data that is used and the processes that are put in place to ensure strong customer authentication compliance. What’s more, consumers now expect unified services with a seamless experience and will have no qualms about going elsewhere if banks can’t provide them.

 

What is identity and authentication?

Before answering this question, it is important to clarify what we mean by identity and authentication, and how the terms differ. Organizations use identity to ensure that only authorised individuals can access information for the appropriate reasons. Authentication, on the other hand, is the key in the lock for identity, allowing customers to go on to execute transactions.

Authentication is required in all channels of interaction, and there are varying means to achieve it. For example, banks can use knowledge factors such as passwords, possession factors such as ID cards or authentication tokens, and inheritance factors such as biometrics to verify users. Each factor has its own unique challenges, however, presenting various security flaws such as weak credentials or the risk of losing physical tokens.

Moreover, in the era of digital banking, criminals can counterfeit many pieces of information to compromise user identities. This has devastating consequences for all involved, whether it be customers whose data is compromised or banks whose reputation is damaged. Identity theft is clearly a grave threat.

 

The extent of the problem

Identity fraud is a growing concern that affects both businesses and customers, especially when fraudulent activity affects innocent people’s credit scores. It has therefore become vital that banks take action to preemptively detect identity theft. But this is, of course, much easier said than done.

Modern hackers are using powerful tools to steal identity information. For example, geospoofing enables criminals to use intermediate computers to hide their IP address and appear in a location that matches the stolen credentials. Elsewhere, hackers are implementing bots that use automated scripts to guess passwords.

The extent of the identity problem becomes clear when we look at the statistics. For example, research shows that it takes the average victim seven months to become aware of identity fraud,. In some cases, it can even take years.

What’s more, once an attack is discovered, the average cybercrime victim in the UK spends 14.8 hours dealing with the aftermath. These are worrying facts, considering the large volumes of money and sensitive data at stake.

With all this in mind, if the established players can’t provide a strong anti-fraud service via a user-friendly authentication system, it will only be a matter of time until consumers take their custom to more agile fintechs and challenger banks. So how can these problems be resolved?

 

The AI solution

Proving identity is the critical first step in preventing theft. After all, only when you have confidence in the interaction can you begin to validate the other requests. However, the greatest problem is gaining this confidence, and the rise of remote requests increases the challenge.

If it is true that technology has complicated matters with regard to identity and authentication, it is also true that it holds the key to resolving the problem. For example, AI-enabled programmes are now capable of authenticating payments in real-time. They can also quickly recognise fraudulent attempts to steal logins or log counterfeit payments.

Despite this, an alarmingly small number of financial institutions are leveraging the appropriate solutions. Research shows that only 10% of organisations are actively using ML analytics to orchestrate authentication. While 50% are in the process of implementing these solutions or have them on their road maps, a worrying 40% are not.

With this in mind, banks need to take steps to prove the value of AI and advanced analytics. In addition, they must demonstrate how these solutions can bring new levels of flexibility and convenience to customers.

AI and advanced analytics are helping banks to preemptively detect identity fraud rather than having to deal with the aftermath. By learning the “normal” behaviour of customers, they can limit the number of false positives and unnecessary challenges. This helps to reduce customer frustration and friction while maintaining security in the process.

 

The sooner you invest, the sooner you benefit

Technology has changed the face of identity and authentication. The benefits brought to banking are significant and the risks of inaction rapidly expanding. When innocent people begin falling prey to cybercriminals, it dramatically affects the user experience. This is a key issue for banks to overcome in the era of open banking and digital payments.

For all the benefits that AI and advanced analytics bring, there is an alarming lack of adoption in the industry. As a result, it falls to the banks themselves to become the driving force for change and to demonstrate the business value that these solutions bring to financial services.

Those who fail to implement powerful AI-based authentication will soon feel the impact on the bottom line as customers flock elsewhere in search of increased security and a smoother journey.

 

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Banking

THE FUTURE OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IN DIGITAL BANKING

DIGITAL BANKING

By Richard Billington, Chief Technology Officer, Netcall

Over the past five years, the digital banking revolution has had a seismic impact on the relationship between customers and the institutions that handle their money.  Since digital banking established itself as the new norm for consumers, there is now a growing expectation for enhanced levels of convenience and security. Recent proof of the evolution has come from Lloyds Banking Group, which recently announced the closure of 56 branches, as an increasing number of customers ditched branch-based banking in favour of online platforms.

Banks are trying to adapt to rapidly changing behaviours by integrating their services seamlessly into their customers’ daily lives. However, whilst offering new opportunities for banks to reach and respond to customer needs, the digital realm also presents an increasingly competitive playing field, with challenger banks constantly entering the market. We are continually hearing of new banking brands offering cash incentives to encourage customers to switch banks. This tug of war is putting increased pressure on banks to outdo one another, in order to retain customers and foster long-term loyalty.

Short-term cash incentives, however, will be spent in vain if a company’s long-term digital experience is not up to scratch. Lost customers mean lost revenue, a negative impact on brand reputation, and market share attrition. In order to gain and maintain a competitive edge, banks must understand what consumers expect online, and then meet those expectations.

 

Getting ready to compete with the Amazon Effect

Whilst it is clear that ‘digital’ is the direction in which the industry is heading, traditional bank brands have a long way to go to satisfy consumers who want to manage their money on their phones and tablets. Today, the so-called ‘Amazon Effect’ is impacting more and more areas of our lives, and digital banking is no exception. Modern customers require instant gratification. They want to see where their package is at any stage of their delivery and, in the same vein, become frustrated if they can’t see how things are progressing with their finances in real-time.

Customers want to stay up to date with changes on their bank accounts. They want to apply for an ISA, mortgage or credit card without hassle. They want to be able to understand where they are in the process. And, most importantly, they want an experience that is unique, personalised, and available at a time convenient to them. Today the onus is on banks to deliver these experiences – ensuring interactions and processes are quick, convenient and streamlined. Those who don’t live up to these expectations risk failure in a highly competitive marketplace.

 

Failing to connect the dots                                                                                                               

Despite the changing customer needs and demands when banking online, all too often customers are faced with a series of disjointed communications, leaving them dissatisfied, confused and frustrated. To solve this, many banks invest in customer-facing departments – marketing, sales and service – but the reality is their customer experience doesn’t just depend on the people dealing with customers every day. It is heavily influenced by processes and technology, the people behind the scenes – the IT team.

For many banks, there’s a huge gap between customer facing departments and IT – what we refer to as the ‘customer experience disconnect’. This means that when someone in the contact centre flags a broken process that only technology can fix, their request often gets ignored. That’s not because IT doesn’t care; it’s because they have a thousand and one other things to do. Realistically, they can’t drop everything to solve one small problem.

But when it comes to customer experience, small problems add up. If a customer can’t apply for a mortgage because an app is broken, that’s annoying. When they can’t get through to customer services because the lines are busy, that’s infuriating. And when they don’t receive a response via email, that’s… well, that may very well be the end of the relationship.

 

Enhancing customer engagement online

Digital transformation in financial services goes beyond just providing an online or mobile account-opening solution. Banks should build a process that connects with the customer before an account is even opened and continues throughout the entire online journey. This includes enabling tailored communication at optimal times on preferred device(s). Every customer touch point should collect insights that the bank can leverage for future communications, to foster brand loyalty and make it harder for businesses to be undermined by competitors.

Done well, digital engagement should not just represent a great communications process, but also reflect changes in the back office that simplify all stages of engagement. Most importantly, these stages should connect seamlessly across communication channels, eliminating the need to visit a branch and enabling consumers to switch between channels, such as telephone, email, social media and in-branch banking, when desired.

As the UK continues to move further towards a cashless society, which is now expected by 2030, getting digital banking right is only going to become more important in order for banks to remain competitive. And to ease the transition to digital banking while maintaining customer loyalty in the digital realm, banks must overcome customer experience disconnects and enhance digital engagement.

 

Creating an effective digital banking experience 

At the moment, departments within banks are operating in silos. This needs to stop if businesses want to create a successful digital banking experience. In order to build trust, long-term relationships and help solve any digital experience problems, it’s important that banks start by bringing customer-facing and IT teams together.

Low-code software solutions can prove invaluable in this instance, helping to accelerate digital customer experiences whilst also enhancing efficiencies within the business. Due to their simplistic nature, these offerings can be integrated across departments and be used by non-experts and developers alike. Well-established banks with bigger IT teams can also benefit, as low-code software solutions work alongside existing systems, significantly helping to improve customer experience quickly and without the need to replace existing infrastructure at a high cost.

In our rapidly expanding digital world, businesses face more pressure than ever to pivot in response to market changes and customer expectations. Therefore, having access to tools that are easy to use whilst enabling innovation will be key to building a better digital customer experience. In addition, analytics tools can also help track performance and offer insights for process improvements and adaptations. Implementing these tools will help empower businesses to remain competitive in today’s rapidly changing banking industry.

 

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BRAVE NEW WORLD: A FUTURISTIC VISION OF PAYMENTS

PAYMENTS

James Booth, VP, Head of Partnerships in EMEA for PPRO

 

Over the last ten years, the retail e-commerce ecosystem has undergone a wide-ranging transformation. As recently as 2010, the e-commerce and payments value chain were relatively straightforward: Any eCommerce merchant could integrate a payment processor’s front-end HPP into their checkout or perform a deeper API integration for a customised checkout experience. The customer then enters their card details or other bank details, which were passed on to payment platforms and schemes for processing.

In 2020, we are now well into the era of open banking, and things look very different. The volume of payments has exploded. By 2018, global digital payments were worth US$3,417.39 billion, and are expected to increase to US$7,640 billion by 2024. Using integrated real-time payments systems — which incorporate everything from authentication through settlement to confirmation — consumers send and spend money in the blink of an eye. And the speed and volume of transactions are made possible by the increased use of technology and artificial intelligence to do everything from risk assessment to anti-fraud measures.

But this very visible — and much written about — transformation is not the only way in which the payments and e-commerce landscape has been changing beyond recognition. Because while e-commerce over the last ten years has gone increasingly global, the way people pay online is more than ever local. In some markets, low rates of financial inclusion make cash-voucher schemes the best option. In others, bank-transfer apps are the most popular.

Our research has shown that between 2017 and 2019, the number of UK online transactions paid for using a bank transfer increased by 36%. Driving the use of bank transfer payment methods by UK consumers to now account for  8% of all British online transactions, with cards and e-wallets, including PayPal, leading the race. In fact, card payments account for 56% of transactions, followed by e-wallets (25%), bank transfers (8% ) and lastly cash (7%).

Some markets prefer e-wallets or primarily use locally issued credit cards. In the Nordics, deferred payment methods are becoming the norm. And in countries such as Germany, most online shoppers prefer via direct debit.

The result is a global online and digital payments market that is now incredibly diverse. And even more complicated. Even markets right next door to each other may have very different payment preferences. In Latvia, for instance, 49% of online transactions are paid for using a credit card [2]. In neighbouring Lithuania, it’s just 24%.

Globally, by 2021, only 15% of all transactions will be paid for using the brands of credit cards familiar to most Western merchants. That number is only set to decrease. Today, local payment methods account for 77% of e-commerce spend; by 2024, it is forecast that this share will increase to 82%. There are an estimated 450+ significant local payment methods worldwide, so considering the UK mostly rely on PayPal and card payments, there is a big world of alternative payment methods the British public are yet to realise. To truly go global, merchants don’t just need break down language barriers, but also payment barriers.

Already, Klarna, one of Europe’s most popular bank-transfer and pay later app, processes €53.4 billion in online payments every year. Merchants operating in or entering Europe which doesn’t support Klarna are effectively saying that they’re not interested in any part of that €53.4 billion. And this situation is not unique; it applies to markets throughout the world.

 

Local payment methods, as they drive financial inclusion, will only proliferate.

When we look forward to the state of e-commerce in 2030, a personalised shopping experience is not a nice-to-have. It is an absolute requirement. Consumer preferences must be noted; if they aren’t, retailers will miss out on sales. Almost half (47%) of UK consumers will end a transaction if their preferred payment method is not available, according to PPRO research, so customising payment options for cross-border shoppers is vital. This is highly important to attract international customer bases beyond a retailer’s local remit. It’s no longer adequate to offer customers one single way of paying – in-store or online. Payments aren’t a one size fits all approach.

The best brands do this already. Those who don’t will struggle to make it to 2030.

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