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Security and customer experience aren’t mutually exclusive

Should banks choose between security and customer experience? asks Mark Grainger, VP Europe, at software company Engage Hub.

As the risks posed by data breaches and the needs of customers evolve at an ever-accelerating pace, many financial institutions are struggling to find the right balance between security and flawless customer experience.

A crucial priority for any bank is protecting sensitive customer data and safeguarding their money. But just as important today, is providing an engaging and streamlined customer experience. Considering that in 2018 criminals stole £1.2 billion through fraud and scams in the UK alone, most banks unsurprisingly tend to put security first and focus on mitigating any potential risks for the organisation and its customers.

However, one of the main challenges posed by enhanced security is that it usually requires additional steps and hoops that customers need to jump through. This, of course, affects their experience with the bank and makes the whole process complicated and time-consuming. Streamlining the customer experience is an imperative – not a bolt-on. In fact, a recent study from UK’s competition authority shows that customers do put a high price on quality customer service and penalise the banks that disappoint in this area. According to the report, 82 per cent of British customers would recommend Metro Bank and First Direct to family and friends. On the other end of the spectrum, RBS had the lowest customer rankings with only 46% of their customers saying that they would recommend it.

KBC Bank Ireland, for example, has recognised the importance of embracing new technologies that cater to millennials’ needs and now its customers benefit from the bank’s services and expertise on multiple touchpoints, whilst enjoying a safe and engaging digital journey. For example, KBC Bank Ireland’s customers who hold an AIB or Bank of Ireland current account can now view their balance within the KBC app. This functionality provides customers with a complete overview of their personal current accounts via the app. It is precisely this customer centric thinking that is so compelling to the target market.

So how can banks implement enhanced security protocols while also providing a smooth, effortless experience to their customers?

Biometric data

An important aspect banks might want to consider when it comes to improved security and speed is biometric authentication. Many banks are already using fingerprint ID for mobile banking apps, and facial recognition is gaining traction too. In fact, studies show that the global facial recognition market is expected to grow from $3.2bn in 2019 to $7bn by 2024.

Another option for customers to confirm their identity is voice authentication. Call-centre agents can easily identify and verify a customer through voice, saving time and resources compared with other more complicated methods.

While many customers are reluctant to share biometric data like fingerprints or face images, as shown by the backlash against the recent facial recognition system implemented at King’s Cross station in London, they might be a lot more comfortable with voice authentication.

This method could save significant time that is usually spent with verification, leading to happier customers and more efficient staff.

Furthermore, with voice authentication customers don’t need the latest mobile technology and makes stealing one’s voice significantly harder, even for highly sophisticated cyber criminals.

Two-factor authentication

Another security protocol that has now become the norm and satisfies both the need for security and a painless customer journey is two-factor authentication (2FA).

The proliferation of sophisticated phishing scams means complex passwords are not enough anymore to keep a customer’s online account safe. 2FA diminishes the risks of breaches and doesn’t have a significant impact on the digital journey as most customers are already familiar with the protocol from major companies that they interact with everyday such as Amazon, Google or Netflix.

While many banks are hesitant to add an extra loop to the customer journey, as long as 2FA is easy to execute and doesn’t take a long time, customers will actually appreciate the added security layer and happily comply with the protocol.

Secure mobile banking

In a mobile-centric world, an increasing number of customers are now using their smartphones for various banking transactions. This could leave them open to fraud and attacks that banks are striving to prevent. A potential avenue for mitigating risks for mobile transactions is a closer collaboration between banks and mobile operators.

SIM swap fraud or SIM swap identity theft allows criminals to reroute a person’s mobile number to a new SIM card. Mobile operators usually have strong security checks in place in order to prevent this, but their measures are not infallible. If banks and mobile operators join forces and use their sophisticated security systems to identify fraudulent or suspicious activity, they could prevent many malicious attacks and enhance the customers’ experience without burdening them with extra steps and processes.

Most customers are aware of the risks they are facing when it comes to online and mobile banking and are happy to put up with some extra steps to prevent any potential breaches or fraud. As a result, banks don’t have to choose between security and satisfied customers but they do have to find that happy middle ground where they can protect their customers’ interest while also providing a seamless digital experience.


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