The Financial Services community just got serious about identity

Lina Andolf-Orup

at Fingerprints

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The Financial Services community just got serious about identity

13.06.2018 12:00 pm

I find myself sitting in Schiphol Airport, trying to switch off. But I can’t. As with everyone that went to Money 20/20 Europe, I’m exhausted. But I leave the show excited by the progress the payments community has made in the last year, my head still buzzing with the evolution in the story we’ve seen on topics such as identity, privacy and security and where we’re headed next. 

Regulation, Regulation, Regulation

Sure, GDPR and PSD2 were hot topics last year too, but now a reality, with both implemented earlier this year, identity and privacy have been brought into sharp focus. As consumers, we are now painfully aware of just how many companies have our data (how many GDPR emails did you get last month!?) and how some companies use it (I’m looking at a big social network...!). For the Financial Services community, the energy is now on getting better at managing identity and authentication. 

The regulation narrative also looks set to drive changes in behaviour. For example, one conversation I had dived into the shift we’re likely to see away from cloud-based data. My contact was saying that GDPR may make consumers think twice about where their information is stored, preferring services where they retain control on their device or on a local cloud. The commonality across all of this will be trust. If a consumer trusts your brand, they will be far more likely to share their data to use your service, and pay with their time. Again, it all will depend on the situation, the device or application in question, and the task the consumer wants to do. Equally important will be the benefit we as users get in return for providing our data and time, a better and more personalized service for instance, empowering us to take more control of our life, and make better decisions.

Thinking about identity more broadly, the ‘Solving for Identity’ panel highlighted the Sanskrit word soham meaning ‘I am’, a simple yet complex idea. KYC is fundamental to the financial industry and it is key that financial institutions know when and where transactions happen, but it is essential that the ‘who’ is not forgotten.

Biometrics beyond mobile

As always, it is important to recognize that payment is a means to an end, not the end game. The focus must be on making it as seamless and convenient as possible. What was exciting for us was the prominence now placed on biometrics as a central way to achieve this and to unify the experience across multiple channels and devices. In fact, Mastercard’s CSSO spoke about how biometrics is playing a key role in their omni-channel security policy including payment cards, mobile and online.

It’s clear from many conversations this week, not least the presentation from Klarna’s CEO, that the variance and fragmentation around how we access our services is causing consumer confusion and frustration. There are just too many ways and too many steps to make simple tasks. It is up to us as an industry to kill the password and make consumers’ lives easier, simpler and, importantly, more secure.

Consumer familiarity with fingerprint and face/iris recognition from their mobile devices is seeing biometrics rise to the top as a rare security technology that does not limit CX and UX. In a number of areas, it can even enhance both. And what’s great is that from visiting lots of the booths and sessions, many companies are now reaching the deployment phase for their biometric projects. Not only that, but these projects are also a central and fundamental aspect of their ongoing strategy.

Cards, cards everywhere

The mobile revolution has been heralding the death of the card for many years, but it was clear from many of the booths and sessions that the card is here to stay. Mobile payments have not achieved the promised adoption, and cards as a form factor are just as convenient and secure. Think about standardization too. You can walk into a shop almost anywhere in the world and pay with your plastic card. We saw from this year’s Payments Race that mobile is a long way off achieving this level of penetration.

Importantly, though, cards have to evolve. We saw multi-currency cards, powered cards and biometric payment cards, to name just a few. It is going to be interesting to see how these new card form factors take off, with some predicting on the show floor that the first commercial deployments of biometric payment cards will be end of this year.

I(D)oT

It wouldn’t be a tech blog without reference to IoT. On Wednesday I headed to the Flying Trapeze Stage to see the discussion around the IoT payments roadmap. The speakers viewed IoT as the most impactful trend of the next five years, with identity and payments as enabling functionalities. And that is what payment must be; this is my absolute key takeaway from the show.

Payment is an enabler. Of technology. Of life. Of fun. This is how we must consider technology itself. If we focus on the end user and making their life easier, more convenient and more enjoyable, adoption will follow. 

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