Jumio Wages War Against Digital Authentication ‘Maybes’

Jumio digital identity authentication

What’s worse than a “maybe”?

Warm ice cream, perhaps?

Flat soda?

Pat Boone singing heavy metal? (Yes, he actually released an album of heavy metal covers in 1997, with hard-edged songs from Metallica and Guns N’ Roses rendered in a jazzy style that is not campy but just bad.)

Anyway, when it comes to “maybes” — the absence of certainty, the mushy middle that, in business, can mean revenue loss and flat growth — too many of them can provide openings for fraud. And that’s why Jumio, sensing a market opportunity as digital ID and authentication become increasing vital to everyday consumer life, has launched a new campaign centered around the idea of “No More Maybes.”

Lack of Clarity

Retail and payments operators often receive less-than-clear guidance from their authentication services providers when it comes to the legitimacy of a customer and his or her ID documents. Ideally, a business wants a clear “yes” or “no” in authentication — for obvious reasons. But even with artificial intelligence and machine learning helping human experts spot attempts at fraud, such certainty is not always possible. In the view of Jumio Chief Revenue Officer Robert Prigge, who talked with PYMNTS about the campaign, it’s less possible from fly-by-night operators in the digital ID and authentication space.

The reasons for the new campaign point to the robustness of the digital ID and authentication market and the importance of such security, as so much of life starts to depend on digital and as consumers and companies operate more closely on the global scale. Prigge pointed out during the PYMNTS interview that the global digital ID industry is a $10 billion marketplace, at least going by a McKinsey & Co. estimate. That could grow to $20 billion by 2022.

“Digital identity verification is growing incredibly fast,” he said.

Taste Test

For a company such as Jumio, that fast growth presents challenges along with opportunities. Younger firms, deploying automation software, are entering the market and chasing those billions of dollars, threatening to not only win over new customers that would otherwise go to the older firms, but to steal away existing clients.

That opens the door for Jumio, via its “No More Maybes” campaign, to essentially throw down a dare, something akin to those old soda taste tests in the 1980s. A central part of the campaign — as explained on its website — is a $10,000 “testing challenge” that will pit Jumio’s technology against others, with the potential client getting that money if the competitor delivers more accurate results when it comes to the legitimacy of the digital persona.

The campaign website also features a calculator function that estimates a company’s annual cost of manual authentication reviews. Such factors as the average salary of the manual reviewer (more about manual reviewers in a bit), a customer’s lifetime value and abandonment rates are used to come up with a final figure.

Industry Changes

The campaign comes at a time of significant change in the digital ID and authentication industry. Cutting-edge technologies such as machine learning and artificial technology are helping companies not only spot fraud earlier, but take what sometimes amount to the digital bread crumbs and paint — and keep painting — an ever-more detailed picture of fraud patterns, which helps with preventative efforts and online defenses.

At the same time, digital ID and authentication service providers are learning how to balance all that technology with the expertise that human beings — manual reviewers — can offer. Sometimes it can take a person’s intuition, for instance, to spot something that even the smartest machine might miss, and then to write the code so that machine won’t make the same mistake again. And people are often — some would say usually — better than machines in spotting some image and document flaws that might not catch the eye, at least initially, of the software.

“There will always be gray zones,” Prigge said when asked if the space will ever go fully over to machine automation. Sure, the more data a system takes in, the more it knows and learns. But for the time being, at the least, Prigge said the so-called “hybrid” model — one that combines machine and human intelligence — stands as the strongest model for digital ID and authentication.

Manual Review

Manual review, of course, can encourage customer abandonment if not done in a seamless manner — much like in retail and payments, a person who has to wait too long to get onboarded, or who faces too many rejections, is likely to give up and go elsewhere. In Prigge’s view, the scale at which a company such as Jumio operates is one of the main keys to ensuring that seamless onboarding experience, and that’s a source of the confidence that is behind the company’s new campaign.

“The work is time-consuming,” he said.

Good manual review also depends on good training of the reviewers. As you can probably imagine, top reviewers are seriously into details and take the responsibilities of their job very seriously, Prigge said.

A worthwhile manual reviewer also needs to run against the current of human nature. “It’s human nature … [to say] ‘yes’ all the time; you just get into the habit of approving everything,” he said. “You almost have to change your mindset to one that is expecting errors, and that takes training and expertise.”

In fact, the training never really stops, given that authentication service providers are dealing with IDs and data from around the world — IDs that are regularly replaced, or, often, are so old that appearances may have changed drastically since issuance.

“In some countries, you can use the same license for 20 years,” Prigge said.

No matter what, the goal is greater certainty, which closes off chances for fraudsters and other criminals to exploit weaknesses in retail and payment systems. And Jumio is now taking on those challenges by promising that certainty. For now, the digital ID and authentication market is in a state of expansion, with all those dollars attracting more entrants, but Prigge expects consolidation and “culling” within two years or so.

But no matter how the industry changes between now and then, one truth will likely not change — not when it comes to digital life.

“Trust is the killer problem,” Prigge said.


New PYMNTS Report: Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook – July 2020 

Call it the great tug-of-war. Fraudsters are teaming up to form elaborate rings that work in sync to launch account takeovers. Chris Tremont, EVP at Radius Bank, tells PYMNTS that financial institutions (FIs) can beat such highly organized fraudsters at their own game. In the July 2020 Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook, Tremont lays out how.