In an era of nearly constant data breaches, securing commerce is now everyone’s concern.
And for good reason.
In addition to the potential liability that issuers and merchants may face if stolen credentials or identities are used online, breaches only further fuel consumer concerns over whether – or how – to use their payments credentials securely in an increasingly digital world.
Quite often, those concerns become conversations across the payments ecosystem about how to erect more barriers between the fraudster and the customer’s data. And quite often, those conversations are focused on how to make it even more difficult for the fraudsters to access that data.
Mark Nelsen, Visa’s senior vice president of risk and authentication products, told Karen Webster in a recent conversation that there’s a big risk in taking that approach: Every roadblock that’s put up to make life difficult for the bad guys becomes a new hurdle that a legitimate consumer has to clear on her way to buying something, or even opening a new account online.
In the era of digital commerce, Nelsen said, that means asking consumers to put up with the friction of passwords, SMS messages with one-time passwords, remembering the answers to the security questions that fraudsters might also have anyway – all for the security of using her account credentials online.
“The technology is already out there,” Nelsen said, “but our clients struggle with knowing what technology to pick, and then how to quickly integrate and deploy those solutions. It’s not ‘light switch’ easy to turn on these technologies.”
Nelsen told Webster that even Visa’s largest partners face a 12-month run time – end-to-end – to deploy a new authentication technology that replaces static passwords. And given that the Internet of Things is expected to add 20 billion connected devices to the roster of consumer commerce tools over the next 2-1/2 years, making payments safe and seamless [is] a need more pressing than even the most advanced deployment time scales can accommodate.
“We want our issuers and merchants and stakeholders to get quicker access to technology in a way that accelerates their adoption,” Nelsen added.
Today, with the launch of Visa ID Intelligence, Visa has made it possible for financial institutions and merchants to break through the security/convenience tradeoff and use cutting-edge technology to make authenticating consumers smart, seamless and friction-free.
Visa ID Intelligence provides Visa APIs to an ecosystem of curated and vetted authentication partners and authentication building blocks available to Visa partners through APIs and SDKs. Using Visa ID Intelligence tools, Visa partners can quickly integrate and deploy secure and seamless authentication technologies into their own environments.
Removing The Burden
“There is so much we can do,” Nelsen said, noting that once the stumbling block of integration and vetting is lifted, the focus of financial institutions, merchants and commerce partners can become less about what to do and more about what exciting new commerce use cases they are now able to deliver.
Nelsen also said that the Visa ID Intelligence ecosystem is of interest to clients of all sizes. While he and his team once thought it might be of primary interest to small and mid-sized clients, they’ve seen strong interest bubbling up from some of Visa’s largest clients around the world.
“Authentication itself is kind of abstract,” Nelsen said.
“But when [our partners] see the use cases in action, [they] begin to see that everyone across payments has the same goal – but doesn’t want access to the same solution to get there. Visa ID Intelligence provides access to a wide variety of tools for authenticating the consumer that can easily adapt to whatever use cases and customer requirements our partners have.”
Visa ID Intelligence’s authentication sandbox also gives its partners the ability to quickly create, test and adopt new authentication solutions. The platform also enables streamlined contracting between partners.
“We took as much of the friction as we could out of working within our ecosystem so that partners would want to become part of this marketplace – and use it to test, learn and power their own use cases,” he noted.
Nelsen emphasized that Visa ID Intelligence also adds incremental intelligence to the authentication components that are available through the ecosystem’s partners.
“We have a long history of finding risk,” he said, adding that Visa’s global network vantage point enriches the authentication technologies available through Visa ID Intelligence.
Visa ID Intelligence launches today with four partners: AU10TIX for document identity, Daon for biometrics, and ThreatMetrix and Neustar for device and digital identity decisioning, with the goal of adding many more partners to the ecosystem over time.
Nelsen emphasized that expanding the depth and breadth of the toolbox and the layers of authentication around transactions – in a way that doesn’t disrupt the consumer’s experience – will be up to the issuers, commerce partners and merchants who participate. Visa ID Intelligence, he said, is designed to preserve that optionality.
“The goal is to create a world where consumers are better protected, but less inconvenienced,” Nelson said, adding that there are many paths to get there – Visa just wants to make it easier for their partners to pick one and run with it.
Nelsen’s recommendation for the best way to get started? “Go now, and start to play around with creating solutions in our sandbox.”