Identifying Good Customers, One Mobile Device At A Time

Mobile devices can help companies, from banks to retailers, track consumer data in real time to find out which customers are most desirable. Robert McAlear, GIACT’s EVP of product strategy, explains how GIACT is putting mobile to work and the real-time mobile intelligence that delivers.

The continued movement toward mobile commerce has placed increasing pressure on service businesses of all stripes — from lenders to retailers — to find out, in real time or at least near real time, which customers are “good” ones. That means tracking device activity, regardless of location, user or activity, with speed, accuracy and the intent of discovering and delivering mobile customer intelligence to the enterprise.

In an interview with Robert McAlear, GIACT’s EVP of product strategy, PYMNTS delved into the building blocks that are part of a robust and useful “know-your-customer” strategy. The firm’s gMobile solution, which helps authenticate users and delivers real-time risk analysis across mobile channels, debuted late last year, and McAlear said that the platform “enables delivery of a frictionless customer experience, requiring no additional customer input, scripting or burdensome software downloads.” It also covers device authentication, location and change events, in addition to account status. Most recently, the firm introduced Securelink, which is a suite of services that ties into gMobile and supports SMS messaging and email.


PYMNTS: GMobile is not tethered to mobile devices, and it looks to authenticate the customer behind the device, instead of just the device. Why is that, and what benefit does that give its customers (lenders, retailers, other service businesses)?

RM: This speaks to the flexibility of gMobile. When a mobile device is being used by the end customer, a business can confirm the device, phone number and person, all linked to each other.

This allows a lender, insurer, etc. to use gMobile to authenticate a customer, and it extends across retail or electronic wallet, where a seller may be setting up a loyalty program tied to method of payment. All of this is being done without the use of JavaScript or device ID tags.


PYMNTS: GMobile touts its 95 percent coverage of all mobile users across all major carriers. Is this something that the general consumer knows is activated on their device?

RM: It is not tied to their device directly. GMobile leverages the general customer’s relationship with their carrier, including prepaid. The carrier manages customer information, account attributes, such as age of account and change events, as well as the device tied to the mobile account.

Accessing this information requires customer consent, which is managed through our API. On a mobile app, it can be a line item in the terms and conditions. This means that the merchant or business is required to obtain consent to collect mobile identifiable information.


PYMNTS: For Securelink, what makes SMS messages and emails more useful than behavioral data? Or is this an avenue to always having an ear to the ground regarding the customer when he/she is offline?

RM: Behavioral data is compelling in its own right and provides confidence. Securelink provides certainty. There are a lot of different directions to go with this question. First, an SMS message facilitates several multi-factor authentication use cases that can be integrated into a workflow on top of risk assessment. Also, clients like insurers or service businesses may be hosting the customer experience or application event on their own tablet. In that case, application data is confirmed, and Securelink can be used for customer acknowledgement, order confirmation or service authorization.


PYMNTS: How can implementation of gMobile be frictionless from day one? Without any data to verify against a consumer, is it easier to spoof a new customer as opposed to a longtime user?

RM: I look at gMobile as frictionless since no additional customer data needs to be provided over and above what is captured in a typical application or enrollment (first/last name, email, mobile number).

GMobile authenticates the device, verifies the customer information and confirms that the device is tied to the phone number and the phone number is tied to the customer. Additionally, location can be factored in to support geofencing, as well as risk/fraud use cases.

Since the data is real time from the carriers, change events indicating fraud, as well as lost/stolen device notifications, are shared immediately. The customer data is tracked within and across carriers.

So, if a person or business just opened a mobile account yesterday or opened one with a different carrier and phone number five years ago, the data is relevant and actionable in assessing customer risk and mitigating fraud. Spoofing would be difficult.


PYMNTS: With many people using mobile, tablet and laptops, can gMobile be used cross-platform? Or would they have to have other GIACT software running on their other devices?

RM: Yes, gMobile is supported across platforms. The use case dictates how it is used. An mCommerce or mobile-centric event or wallet application will involve device authentication. A tablet/laptop event will leverage mobile customer intelligence (location if needed) and may even support Securelink to facilitate acknowledgement/authentication. Additionally, we made gMobile interoperable with our other solutions, allowing our customers to leverage intelligence and insights from mobile, financial institutions, identity providers and even social media.


PYMNTS: With the advent of devices such as Amazon Echo, where does GIACT go for new innovations in the virtual assistant device space?

RM: Interesting topic. The intersection of IoT, virtual assistant devices and recognizing the end customer. Customer data ownership and privacy concerns will still drive a need to authenticate a customer to the device, and there will also be a need to verify the customer ongoing. As these business requirements and use cases develop, GIACT will be ready to support them, as we will not be limited by the interface.