Due to the recent pandemic, businesses have had to digitally transform their operations to better serve customers, including the rapid turnover of products and services for both offline and online delivery. The flip side of this is that the investment in new digital capabilities will have long-term benefits. Even with restrictions easing, many consumers admit they now prefer banking and shopping online. In a Morning Consult survey of 2,200 U.S. consumers, nearly 1 in 4 said they wouldn’t feel comfortable shopping at a mall for more than six months.
At the same time, consumers will increasingly demand a stellar experience when interacting with a business. According to analyst firm IDC, 73% of customers say a positive experience is essential to brand loyalty. If businesses fail to deliver on these expectations, people will simply click elsewhere. And businesses must meet customer expectations from the start — when they create an account. A lengthy or complicated sign-up process will alienate most people.
But just what do customers want in their digital experiences? The typical narrative is that of prioritizing speed above all else. There is also the general perception that some customers in the U.S. and U.K. are indifferent to online security and the risks of fraud and identity theft. But that’s a false assumption.
The Economic Value Of Security
Privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA have increased awareness about how businesses use consumer data. The Cambridge Analytica scandal clearly shows that disregarding privacy has disastrous consequences.
Therefore, consumers have come to expect that businesses respect their privacy and protect their personal information. For example, most credit card companies give consumers the ability to set notification alerts for transactions that fall outside typical spending behavior, such as international purchases or purchases over a certain amount.
According to a recent survey of over 2,000 consumers in the U.K. and the U.S. commissioned by my company, Trulioo, 62% of consumers prefer a slower account creation process with more rigorous identity verification to protect them from risk, rather than a faster process with few identity checks. This preference for security is true for customers in financial services, online retail and online marketplaces.
Online businesses face immense pressure to protect customers who visit their websites and mobile apps. In fact, 89% of consumers say a secure account creation process that validates their identity and protects against fraud and identity theft is very important.
How Identity Verification And Security Work Together
Digital identity verification is the key to secure online transactions. However, verification needs vary widely from person to person, transaction to transaction and market to market. Some people have established identities like government ID numbers, while others may only have a mobile phone in their name. Approving a mortgage is a higher-risk transaction than creating an account. And identity itself is always evolving as people get new jobs, move, change their names or open new lines of credit.
All of these factors increase the complexity of protecting customers in a digital environment. The methods and data sources used to verify one customer’s identity may not work for another customer. Without the ability to meet customers where they are in terms of their identity, companies can’t properly verify that the customer is who they say they are. This lack of assurance opens the door for criminals to commit identity theft, fraud and other cybercrimes.
Building Security One Layer At A Time
To enable secure transactions online, identity verification needs to account for the different makeup of people as well as the different risk levels in transactions. This requires taking a step back and looking at verification as a whole, rather than looking at a single, fixed method. A bad actor can easily get into the system if the verification process only checks an ID document, for example, but doesn’t verify the personally identifiable information (PII data) on that document.
Looking at identity verification holistically lets businesses take a risk-based approach to protecting customers online. The company can focus on the goal — which may be to prevent fraud — and create a verification process based on each type of customer and transaction. Depending on the risk level, this process may include multiple methods, or layers, of verification. Each layer adds a level of assurance that a person’s identity is valid.
This layered approach also offers tremendous flexibility, so businesses don’t have to recreate the process or replace their technology for different use cases. Onboarding one customer might only take a basic know your customer (KYC) check. The next customer might require more robust verification from multiple sources, such as device authentication through a mobile network operator and ID document verification.
Today, consumer expectations for onboarding and other online experiences are high. As much as customers value security, they also won’t tolerate pointless friction. Our survey found that 42% of prospective customers will leave if the service provider fails to verify their identity after multiple attempts.
By focusing on risk mitigation rather than the verification method, businesses can satisfy consumer demands for security and speed for an exceptional user experience. Accessing multiple verification layers to strengthen security provides the assurance that a customer is who they say they are.
In today’s competitive world, reputation is everything. By offering the security that customers value, real-time identity verification can help build brand trust and preserve a company’s good name.
This post first appeared on Forbes.