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Don’t let a lost phone lose you revenue (Ed Ackerman)

Of the 333,000 items found on the London Transport network each year, around one in ten are mobile phones. And while we may not have all experienced losing this most treasured of items, we can empathise with the massive inconvenience.

And with good reason. New research from Onfido and Okta found that 35% of customers would find it difficult to access their bank account if their phone was lost or stolen. This came down to two main reasons.

The first is the security processes individuals need to go through to access their accounts. For years, many of us have relied on a biometric saved on the smartphone to do so. But when that process isn’t available, it often shifts to an entirely knowledge-based method using a pincode, passcode, or sometimes a series of passwords with niche questions that users may not remember.

Other methods include the use of card readers and digital security keys, which use passcodes to generate a unique log-in code to access the account or its services (i.e. a bank transfer) from another device. But in the event of a lost, stolen or broken phone, where the digital key is typically saved and registered to, this can block a user from access to digital products and services.

The second is convenience. When digital authentication processes fall short, consumers have to head to their nearest bank to resolve the issue, which is made more difficult when many have been affected by local branch closures. By April of this year, more than 500 UK high street branches had already been closed or earmarked for closure.

On its own, not going in-branch isn’t a huge problem – Onfido’s survey with Okta once again revealed that over three-quarters of consumers would be more than happy to never again visit a bank branch in person if they were offered fully digital experiences instead. However, this highlights a significant shift in users’ demand for digital access; what this means for businesses is that they should consider identity solutions which aren’t tied to a user’s device but enables users to authenticate themselves on any device.

Consumers, then, aren’t exclusively looking to digital services when they lose a smartphone. But it seems the banks offering them are falling short when it comes to delivery – 7 in 10 customers were blocked from accessing services in the past 12 months in some capacity because of a lack of digital processes, with an astonishing 23% reporting it happened regularly. One such key digital process is authentication – proving it’s really you who is accessing your account. Without this, businesses are missing out on revenue opportunities and leaving customers frustrated and locked out. 

Despite widely recognised security risks and poor user experience, passwords remain the de facto standard for user access and authentication for online applications. Biometric authentication provides a compelling alternative to consumers for the speed and convenience, and for financial services for the security and assurance. Users trust the security so much that 91% of customers who had their identity verified by submitting a photo of their identity document would like to use this option again.

And using this approach not only at the onboarding process for new users, but as a frictionless way for trusted users to re-access existing accounts within seconds, presents a massive opportunity for banks to increase the ease of access to their platforms without compromising on security.

While I’m not planning on leaving my phone on the tube this year – and I hope you don’t either – the potential for biometric authentication to increase the speed, security and convenience of accessing mobile banking services presents a massive opportunity to provide a digital solution that works whether it’s the user’s Plan A, B or C.

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