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Now Biometrics will be essential for Digital Onboarding and Authentication

Biometrics will be in high demand in order for economies to function during the Covid-19 virus outbreak.

Many onboarding practices with traditional banks involve the customers making a trip to the local branch to verify who they are with their ID documents. Now that most countries have introduced stay-at-home policies due to the coronavirus crisis, more and more customers will be using online or mobile banking services.

During this virus outbreak, the digital challengers will have a distinct advantage in that they are already offering online and mobile services. They have also deployed remote digital onboarding methods. Many other global banks are falling behind in the digital age and rely heavily on branch and telephone services, particularly in rural areas of the USA. There is now a rush to offer more banking services online and via mobile apps, as social distancing becomes a way of life for the time being. But medical experts are not certain how long it will last, so the less personal interaction we have, the better chances we have of beating Covid-19.

The limit for contactless cards in the UK has increased from £30 to £45 this month in order to help to boost the retail sector and also prevent contact with PIN terminals. However nearly all bricks and mortar retail businesses have been affected by the pandemic, except for mainly food stores, medical outlets and other essential supply services such as fuel stations. Is that enough when the average weekly shopping bill in the UK is £60.60.

In most markets, if the stay-at-home policies continue for several months, we will likely see a huge increase in both mobile and online transactions than traditional point of sales or POS terminals, driving more home deliveries than ever before. Many UK citizens are finding it hard enough to book time slots in advance with all the major food providers which is already creating huge line-ups in front of stores and queuing times of over an hour.

So avoiding any physical contact with people or surfaces is now necessary to stop the spread of Covid-19 still further. Therefore it is likely that fingerprint touch pads for the time being will not be a way to verify payments.

Non contact biometric modalities such as voice, face, and iris will be more in demand for both online payment authentication and onboarding. However, trusting all these biometrics will also require liveness detection and anti-spoofing technologies, because the security of the biometrics is paramount. Fraudsters will try to take every opportunity to exploit the weaknesses in biometrics. Therefore proving a person is truly real and also in real time is imperative.

This makes a very strong case for passive liveness detection ensuring the customer journey is frictionless. Passive facial liveness distinguishes between a live person and a spoof such as printed photographs, cut-out photos, screen displays, video playbacks, and masks without any active participation from a user. It involves just a single frame capture like a selfie to prevent a possible presentation attack.

It minimizes the time and effort for the user because no extra effort is needed. Simply use the same selfie image for liveness and face matching. No need to capture a video or force the user to move and perform an action. The less effort in the user experience, the faster the process is.

Most banks already recognise the operational efficiencies and cost savings associated with using automated processes but creating a digital onboarding experience that delights customers can add much more value. As a bank, the way you onboard new customers sets the tone for your ongoing banking relationship. If you get it right, you increase customer lifetime value, reduce churn and turn new customers into brand ambassadors

Customers now expect to be able to conduct fast and flexible interactions with their banks at any time, regardless of location or channel. Yet, many say onboarding is a frustrating experience because they’re often required to provide physical identification or answer too many questions.

According to a recent study, Over 40% of new customers abandon the onboarding process after 20 minutes. On average people abandon after just 14 minutes and 20 seconds. The study also asked why customers abandon onboarding. Around 70% said this is due to customers being asked for too much personal information and the length of time taken in the whole process.

In another study from a major global bank, it highlighted around 50% abandon the digital onboarding process due to the complex nature of some liveness functions that involve moving the mobile device towards their face or asking users to move their head from side to side in a specific way. Challenging the user to perform a task that is unusual is where the problem lies. This kind of active liveness check causes friction, slows down the onboarding process and it is unnecessary when alternative passive and more efficient liveness solutions are available. Why make end users jump through extra hoops in order to obtain banking or retail services.


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Steve Cook
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Steve Cook

Head of Business Development


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07 Oct 2015



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:


Biometrics are the new weapons of war against online fraud and supporting financial services with biometric authentication and their KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures. ​ There are many different areas where biometrics are being deployed. For example in digital identity; an alternative to user names and passwords; protecting against ID theft; account takeovers and multiple accounts. ​ Mobile biometric authentication is helping to verify new and returning customers at the point of log-ins, payments and digital on-boarding.

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