The first mobile banking app was launched in 2009 by RBS. The tool allowed customers to check account balances and transactions via their smartphone. In the ensuing years, the rest of the market followed suit, taking advantage of technological innovations and making it easier for customers to interact with businesses. As smartphones became many consumers’ primary computer (the one always with them, at least) and as the app economy grew, consumers started demanding more than the ability to login to and transact from the websites of their providers, from wherever they were, at any time of day.
Due to the rise in app availability, consumers demanded better, easier, and more secure mobile experiences from every corner of the provider ecosystem—banks, retailers, restaurants, car dealerships, healthcare organizations, you name it. If it could be done online, why shouldn’t it be done online? Secure transactions were the responsibility of the provider, they said. Make it happen. Make it as easy for me to securely send money as it is to order a pizza.
Traditional institutions in highly regulated industries like banking, healthcare, and government were reticent to move too much of their consumer-facing capability online. Thus, for a long time, consumers applying for mortgages, submitting documents to their doctors, and filling out their taxes, for instance, had to do so manually. The antiquated processes were time consuming and frustrating for consumers, and it was hard for providers to verify the authenticity of the documents and identities of users.
Advancements in document capture, optical character recognition (OCR), smartphone cameras, facial recognition, artificial intelligence, secure digital identity, authorization and authentication, big data, bot detection, and cloud computing have since made it possible for even the most risk-averse and regulated organizations to ensure the veracity of consumers’ digital identities and government-issued documents. Not every organization has embraced digital ID verification yet, but it is the future, and companies like Mitek Systems are ensuring that consumers and providers can interact securely, privately, and without the threat of fraud or breach.
Speaking with Chandru Sundarraman, Head of Product Marketing at Mitek, he explained the company’s viewpoint on identity verification technology: “Our approach to identity verification is that there are fraudsters trying to get onboarded, using false identities, and sometimes legitimate people and their accounts for fraudulent purposes, but they don’t represent the majority of users who are being onboarded. Ninety-eight to ninety-nine percent of users are good guys, people trying to legitimately do their business. A lot of companies in our space focus only on the 1-2% bad guys. You can’t focus only on bad guys; they’re just the tip of iceberg. We built our technology and products to incorporate aspects of good behavior and ensure good users have a great experience going through the onboarding process while remaining secure.”
Mitek’s Mobile Verify is a SaaS solution for digital identity verification. The service, used by large enterprises worldwide, starts with MiSnap, touchless image capture for identity documents and selfies. MiSnap produces a single, high-quality image of the document or person by using the user’s gestures—a smile or blink. Images are then automatically analyzed for authenticity. For identity documents, attributes such as printed bio data, PDF417 barcode, the machine-readable zone, portrait, and other security elements are evaluated for consistency, ensuring that documents haven’t been tampered with. Biometric data from the MiSnap selfie image is compared to that of the previously-submitted identity document to determine authenticity and any attempts at fraud. These elements, said Sundarraman, improve efficacy, efficiency, and user satisfaction.
“User satisfaction and low friction are very important to us,” explained Sundarraman. “There are a lot of companies in our space that provide the technology but aren’t focused on reducing friction. We want to offer a best-in-class user experience because it results in lower abandonment rates and higher user satisfaction. Digital verification as a category must focus on simplifying user experience, so a better experience should extend from initial snap through the authentication process.”
Assurance is also a key component of Mitek’s strategy. Based on their training data sets, proprietary machine learning algorithms, and artificial intelligence, Mobile Verify verifies users’ identities and reduces the number of exceptions in document submission that need to be kicked over to a customer service agent. This further drives down friction while ensuring fraud activity is quickly spotted and handled.
Mobile Verify is a single platform that incorporates AI-based document verification, agent assisted document verification, and biometrics. Organizations can choose the level of assurance required for different types of user actions, depending on the sensitivity of the transaction and factors such as whether the device in use is recognized, is not compromised, and is in a known geographic location. The standard level of identity assurance includes Mitek’s advanced AI document verification. The advanced tier requires a second factor of authentication such as a biometric, AI document verification, and face comparison with passive liveness testing. The highest tier, Premium, requires multi-factor verification including advanced AI assisting agents for document verification, and face comparison with passive liveness testing on a single selfie image.
As a result, the consumer and the provider know the user being onboarded is verified in a secure way and can now trust their identity, thus reducing risk to both parties. While the user experience and identity assurance are elements that set the bar for digital identity verification, Sundarraman says the one thing that sets Mitek apart is its Elite Touch Customer Engagement model with 24x7 applications and operations management. The concierge-like service includes incident lifecycle management, operation escalation, and ongoing operational reporting. Even though the inherent nature of the technology is meant to counter human intervention, it’s still reassuring to know that humans are there when needed, wanted, or when something goes wrong.
We at TAG Cyber see mobile digital identify verification as a massive area of growth, and plenty of businesses are taking note and adopting like technologies to improve customer service and reduce customer friction. The key here is going to be how consistently the verification service delivers accurate, demonstrable, and quick results.