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WHY TRUE STANDARDIZATION IS KEY TO HARMONIZATION

Arnaud Crouzet, VP Security & Consulting at FIME

 

Standardization is prolific in any digital sector and the payments world is no different. However, despite the existence and widespread adoption of global payment standards, we’ve still yet to achieve true standardization. This is a pertinent and complex issue for today’s market. But what are the complexities making interoperability such a priority? And how can we achieve harmonization in payment standards?

 

Innovation, globalization, fragmentation

Payments has experienced rapid digitalization in recent years, witnessing the entry of a number of new payment types, players and form factors. Plus, globalization has meant we’re all now operating, transacting, and trading on an increasingly international stage.

Combined, this fragmentation of the market has resulted in a number of technical headaches for the payment acceptance ecosystem. Domestic interpretations of existing global payment standards have prohibited interoperability across borders. So, despite being compliant, market-specific deployments leave retailers facing a new set of compliance challenges when moving into new geographies.

Stakeholders are at a loss as to how best to work together, and proprietary infrastructure upgrade costs are high. True standardization is key to ensuring all stakeholders sing from the same song sheet, and no player falls out of time. But how can this be achieved?

 

Harmonizing payments acceptance

It’s no easy task to bring together the ecosystem’s players and define a set of truly interoperable, universal standards but thankfully, a lot of the hard work has already been done by industry association, nexo standards. Utilizing the efficiency and interoperability potential of ISO 20022, it has defined a comprehensive portfolio of implementation specifications and messaging protocols that standardize the exchange of payment acceptance data.

ISO 20022 can be considered as ISO’s universal financial standard, defined as “a new way to develop message standards within the financial industry – a standard to develop standards,” nexo’s specifications can be considered as the card payment acceptance arm of these standards.

 

Retuning your focus: nexo and customer centricity

nexo’s specifications and messaging protocols enable stakeholders to benefit from a ‘customer centric’ approach, as each can retune focus from technical integration intricacies to better serving their customers.

Pure interoperability
Players can realize a ‘plug and play’ approach to payments acceptance, as all nexo-compliant systems interoperate seamlessly. This eradicates several of the complexities when expanding internationally, enabling the creation of truly universal offerings that can be tweaked and deployed cost-effectively, and on a global scale.

Powered-up partnerships
Standards create trust. New partnerships can be formed confidently with other nexo-compliant stakeholders, safe in the knowledge that integration will be dramatically simplified, future upgrades will be seamless and a high-level of security is pre-packed into each implementation.

Centralization, centralization, centralization
Whatever your position in the payments chain, centralization can enable huge efficiencies. International retailers can consolidate payment requests from multiple locations globally, enabling acquiring banks to process transactions in more cost-efficient ‘batches’. In turn, retailers can feel empowered to negotiate volume-based deals via a smaller number of acquirers.

Go global
nexo standards directly tackles the incompatibility of existing proprietary and domestic interpretations of past ISO standards by enabling merchants, PSPs, acquirers and vendors to create a single, streamlined cross-border payment acceptance infrastructure.

Speed up innovation and deployments
With internal resource freed from many of the historic challenges of payment integration, players can refocus on developing new, innovative services to meet rising consumer demands. Plus, on a standardized platform, roll-out of new products and services is generally much quicker, more efficient and borderless.

Levelling the playing field
Standards help to eradicate the age-old issue of ‘vendor lock-in’ – a significant and costly challenge that’s especially harming merchants. But standards offer benefits for vendors too, empowering them to compete on equal terms, globally in a nexo-compliant industry. This in turn encourages more competitive pricing models and enhanced offerings.

The next steps to harmonization

nexo standards is changing the payments acceptance world, bringing seamless interoperability and efficiencies to each player in the industry. The scope and value of this synchronization cannot be underestimated.

With deployments rising, getting ahead now is key to safeguarding investment and tapping into instant efficiencies. However, there are a number of obstacles that need to be overcome to ensure a timely, cost-effective launch. Partnering with an industry expert can help you to navigate the technical nuances of the industry and take the strain of ensuring compliance and interoperability. FIME is a leader in payments testing, with more than 20 years of experience in reducing risk and securing digital transformation projects.

 

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Finance

AI: CUSTOMER FACING EMPLOYEES’ BEST FRIEND IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY

By Ryan Lester, Senior Director, Customer Experience Technologies at LogMeIn

 

We’ve all heard the old saying “money talks.” Well when it comes to customer loyalty and retention, good customer experience talks much louder, with 30% of customers leaving a brand and never returning due to a bad experience.

The truth is, there are a lot of companies with similar products and services, but that doesn’t mean that differentiation is impossible. So, what’s the solution? For financial services, large and small, customer experience is becoming the key competitive differentiator and the best way to deliver an impactful experience is to empower customer-facing employees to do their best work. Artificial intelligence (AI) is enabling these employees to create remarkably better customer experiences, resulting in customer loyalty, advocacy, and overall growth.

For financial institutions that have been considering new strategies for improving the quality and efficiency of their customer experience, here are a few ways AI can enable them to deliver the “human factor” that good customer experience demands whilst ensuring customer facing employees can provide a more positive experience for customers.

 

Increase employee productivity

How much of employees’ time is spent searching for answers to questions? Do they ever have to put customers on hold or even step away to get additional help? AI helps provide front-line employees real-time guidance so they can spend less time looking for information and more time solving problems. An AI-powered chatbot, for example, can be listening in the background of a conversation helping point employees to the right data, solutions, and processes to resolve customer issues faster than ever before.

 

Deliver a consistent customer experience

When banking customers engage with their financial institutions, they measure the speed and accuracy of the service through two criteria. First, how quickly can the system access their account and deliver the correct information? Is it faster than a human could type it in and share it? And second, if they eventually do need to be connected to a live customer support agent, is their information captured and passed along accurately? AI technology takes those general queries off the customer support team’s plate, providing a quick, accurate, and effective response. If a query needs a more in-depth response, AI can hand it off to support staff to address.

Not only this but leveraging a centralised, AI-powered knowledge solution ensures every employee has access to the same, updated information, so no matter who the customer speaks to, they can be assured that employee responses are both consistent and accurate across the board.

 

Accelerating employee training and onboarding

Like any industry, employee turnover is inevitable and can be costly. But, not training new employees correctly or in a timely manner could be much more costly. When it comes to financial services there is a lot to learn, whether it is something simple like the process for checking an account balance to all the nuances associated with mortgage loans. AI can support on-the-job training by helping new employees answer questions confidently, correctly, and much quicker than they could before.

 

Improving employee satisfaction

Today’s banking customer has all kinds of new ideas about their banking experience. “The Amazon Effect” has successfully raised consumer expectations to the extent that a consistent, personal, and relevant experience is the new normal. As a customer, how many times have you been told “I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer?” Customers want solutions to their problems and employees want to be able to deliver those solutions as efficiently and effectively as possible. AI assisting in the background helps minimise those negative moments – making employees job easier, less stressful, and overall more enjoyable.

 

Identify knowledge gaps

Do you know all the questions employees are getting asked? Do you know what’s easily answered and what’s not? Real-time insights allow knowledge managers to keep up to date on frequently asked questions and gaps in current resources. This allows them to strategically improve or add content where needed.

 

Augmenting customer service

Whether talking with an AI chatbot or a personable customer service team member, the modern banking customer has high expectations for convenience, speed, and security. Which means that the technology you choose to deploy and how you deploy it is now just as important as who you hire and how you train them.

Today’s AI solutions won’t replace customer service agents or get in the way of the human factors that drive the customer experience. On the contrary, they augment it, allowing the business to do more without adding human resources. The higher the quality of a AI chatbot solution, the better it will be at taking the routine requests off the plate of customer service agents—giving them more time to provide a personalized and positive experience for customers.

 

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Technology

BEFORE THE INK IS DRY: CORRECTING BIOMETRIC SPOOFING MYTHS

Eric Setterberg, System Design Engineer at Fingerprints

Biometric authentication is highly robust, and the latest solutions offer considerably greater security than their authentication predecessors: PINs and passwords.

But as biometrics moves into new areas such as payments and access control, privacy and security concerns are rising. Biometrics has long been subject to scrutiny, with many elaborate examples of people working to trick biometric sensors to crack devices in the media and online.

To ensure the continued adoption of biometrics, it is important to shine a light on the reality of biometric spoofing.

 

The Evolution of Biometric Solutions…

The first use of fingerprints as forensic evidence was in an Argentinean court case in the late 1800s. With the technology still in its infancy, this was done manually and by eye, comparing latent residual prints lifted from crime scenes to charts of inked fingerprints obtained from the suspects at arrest.

A few decades later, the FBI began collecting fingerprints of criminals and civilians. They also introduced the automated comparison of fingerprints by computers in the 1970s. These “traditional representations” have now been standardized by ISO and ANSI.

… and their Spoofs

The earliest and simplest of these matching devices were easy to spoof. Really, all you needed was a photocopy or a good image of a fingerprint to make a successful spoof.

But as biometrics moved to more advanced technology, the game for biometric ‘spoofers’ has changed and the task of crafting fake fingerprints is considerably more difficult.

The biggest boost for biometric security, however, came with its introduction into mobile phones.

 

How Mobile Changed the Game

Before the widespread integration of fingerprint sensors in smartphones, the technology underwent significant evolution. No operator wanted to use large biometric sensors in modern phone designs. Sensors had to become much smaller to reach the perfect price and design point for the mobile world, but this meant needing to capture data from a smaller surface area of the finger.

To maintain the security of these smaller sensors, algorithms evolved significantly in order to utilize a greater amount of data per unit area. These mobile-driven hardware and software changes resulted in the optimized image capture of modern touch sensors.

As a result, tricking these systems now requires a considerably higher level of detail to be reproduced correctly for a match to be successful, far beyond rudimentary gummi bear spoofs and photocopies

 

Setting the Perfect Spoofing Scenario

Compromising fingerprint authentication via spoofing can still be done, even with all the technological advancements. However, it now requires considerable care, skill, money, and time. And to start, a good latent print…

To retrieve a latent print that’s high quality enough to work, you either need a willing volunteer to lend you their finger, or the commitment to stalk a victim until a viable fingerprint can be retrieved. Even with a decent latent print, modern spoofs then require advanced photoshop skills and/or a lab to successfully convert latent prints into effective moulds.

So – what about those articles boasting how easily they have hacked the latest smartphone device’s fingerprint sensor?

In fact, there are only two instances of fingerprint spoofing seen in the media nowadays: proof of concept and cooperative spoofs. Lay enthusiasts and media go through the effort of setting up a lab to create spoofs with latent fingerprints either from themselves or cooperative volunteers. Even the most successful of these take months of work, a highly skilled team, and the perfect scenario of circumstances.

Put simply, the effort required for spoofing modern fingerprint sensors cannot be applied at any scale. Each biometric spoof needs to go through the same laborious process and clinical conditions. So, if you can bring together a willing group of spoofing enthusiasts, tricking a biometric device could earn you fifteen minutes of fame on the internet, but it is likely to be conducive to a successful criminal business plan…

 

A “How” Without a “Why”

Spoofing biometrics remains technically possible, and there will always be those up to the challenge of trying to hack the latest technology. But the reality is that modern biometric solutions require more time, skill, and frankly, luck, to successfully spoof than ever before. Not to mention that tireless R&D work is continuously strengthening spoofing resistance. And, as use cases start to combine multiple biometric authenticators, such as combining fingerprints with face or iris to perform an authentication, spoofing will only become more complex.

By comparison, hacking PINs and passwords is considerably simpler and more scalable, making it far more lucrative. And, criminals generally take the path of least resistance.

For the average consumer, greater use of biometric authentication is not only a means of simplifying authentication, but dramatically improving the security of their devices, applications, and personal data. With PINs and passwords still the most common authentication method outside of mobile, it is imperative that the true security and advanced nature of modern biometric authentication solutions are understood.

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