There’s a lot that goes into identity authentication, and the consumer experience can sometimes get lost in the process. Ofer Friedman, VP of Marketing at AU10TIX – a multi-channel ID authentication and processing company – says it doesn’t have to be that way. He recently shared with PYMNTS his thoughts on how authentication providers can keep the consumer front of mind while still putting their best foot (or fingerprint) forward in terms of security and technological advancements.
There is a dizzying array of authentication solutions and approaches in market today. What do you believe to be the “essential ingredients” for one of the most important aspects of payments?
OF: It’s a great question and one that is being completely reimagined as a result of the shift to digital.
What most seems commonplace today is template matching, where the application contains a library of the images to check against and runs an image analysis in an attempt to create a match. It works perfectly in a front-end situation – like in an airport or border control, where there is actually a live person and an original document – but it’s much less effective online, because the image is almost never the exact one it should be.
Machine learning – or artificial intelligence – can overcome that problem in a faster and much more efficient way using far fewer resources. The best systems, and I have to put ours in this category, can do that in seconds.
Automation is also key – and automation of 100 percent of the process. Every single bit of the process including auto-classification; performing multilayer authentication versus logical checks; and producing output that is easy to incorporate in any process.
Now conventional solutions “automate” authentication by OCR’ing or reading the text on the document and making logical checks. But if that document is a passport, it has at least two data sets; passports have those MRZ lines at the bottom that encode the data that’s printed on the documents and adds some more security checks. However, quite a large chunk of the documents that are required all over the world are not passports and do not contain those lines. Best in class solutions need to do the standard logical check. Then, layered on top of that, document forensics to check to see if the document was tampered with even if the data on it is perfect. Then, to have the ability to leverage the metadata that’s on file, so for instance being able to recognize where geographically it was taken, if it was touched by other software, and so on.
Moving beyond conventional matching to more machine-based learning enables the efficient analysis and processing of “borderline-quality” images. Those with a quality that is poorer than it should be will be rejected otherwise, slowing down the system and limiting the volume processed.
Of course, best in class also get smarter as they go. Exception reports are turned into opportunities to create new functionality that adds value to everyone who relies on the system.
Let’s talk about a specific segment of the payments ecosystem – financial institutions and banks who understand that customer experience is a priority and want to differentiate. But this is also a highly regulated sector. How do they balance customer experience, compliance and security?
OF: You put your finger on one of the expectations that have been sounded on the market for quite some time now: the need to think about security and the customer experience not as two separate processes, but rather as one. The separation that exists now – between a compliance manager and a COO, or between customer onboarding and KYC – is pretty much artificial. It is going to converge into that single, secure onboarding gateway concept that we are now promoting.
Conventional solutions that require the consumer to wait minutes will give way to those that take seconds, without sacrificing security.
From the point of view of customer experience, that is exactly the combination of speed and ease of use – or less friction, as commonly known – with multilayer authentication. This two-in-one concept is exactly the paradigm that market is moving towards.
A number of banks decided to adopt Apple’s Touch ID in an effort to improve customer experience. What are your thoughts on that?
OF: Regardless of the specific application, the idea of using biometrics as part of the customer authentication process is pretty much imminent. It’s unavoidable.
I just had a conversation with an expert who consults with financial institutions all over the world, and he, too, understands that we are heading into a “multi” era: multifactor authentication, multi-point identification, et cetera.
What Apple has been doing is helping to accelerate the introduction of biometrics into the market, but it will probably not end with fingerprint authentication. There’s anything from voice to retina, location based, and so on; so the message is clear that the market is heading towards multifactor authentication – and that will inevitably include biometrics.
What’s next for AU10TIX? What innovative projects are you working on that you can disclose? We heard a rumor that you guys are working on something with Google.
OF: Yes; it’s true.
Part of the reason we’re working with Google is the fact that we will not stop at just providing better or faster authentication of ID documents. We will go into deeper forensics than what is currently available, so that even a seemingly perfect forgery will be able to be detected. The level of security that you’ll get online eventually might not be that different from what you get in-person at a branch and providing physical documents.
We will also come to provide a fuller service package, beyond just authenticating the actual document. This is already in process. What’s going to happen in the future is that AU10TIX will be more dominant in providing full-service customer authentication and validation.
Part of that will involve a “smart mobile” approach. As we know, mobile is becoming the common interface, and we want to use the capabilities that are “hiding” – so to speak – on it, as well as on computers.
Anything beyond that, I can’t disclose right now. Part of our advantage comes from being a step ahead of the market.
Ofer Friedman, VP Marketing at AU10TIX Limited